As the 2020 election unfolds, plenty of predictions have been made about who will win big federal elections. However, little attention has been paid to key races further down the ballot: namely, state legislatures. GovPredict used its unique donor research tools to analyze fundraising in order to forecast results of these critical statehouse elections.
State legislatures affect a wide range of policy issues. Control over them will be more critical than ever going into the new year as states pursue divergent responses to issues like COVID-19 in a national climate where the polarized federal legislative process has slowed to a snail’s pace. But despite their importance, state legislatures rarely, if ever, receive attention from predictive polling research.
To that end, GovPredict used its unique donor research tool to analyze campaign fundraising in state legislatures as a predictor of which party will be in control of key statehouses after November.
Colorado and Michigan: Key Battlegrounds
GovPredict’s analysis focused on two case studies: the Colorado State Senate (with 35 total seats) and Michigan House of Representatives (with 110 total seats). Party control of the two legislatures is hotly contested in 2020. In the Colorado Senate, Democrats control the chamber by a razor-thin margin of 3 seats, and in the Michigan House, Republicans hold a narrow lead of 6 seats.
For both chambers, GovPredict analyzed the total fundraising aggregated for all candidates in each party and compared this to their respective electoral success. By comparing these trends over the past decade to fundraising so far in 2020, an idea of how each party will fare in 2020 emerges.
Fundraising in the Colorado Senate: Democrats Likely To Maintain Control
Usually, Republicans have been able to gain seats, or at least not lose seats, when fundraising is split nearly 50-50 between the two parties. In 2012 and 2014, Democratic State Senate candidates raised slightly more than their Republican counterparts and still lost seats in each election, finding themselves in the minority by one seat heading into 2016. Republicans gained a slight fundraising edge in that year, but the balance of the chamber went unchanged.
In 2018, Democrats significantly outraised Republicans, and regained control of the legislature by picking up two seats.In 2020, Democrats have also outraised Republicans, albeit to less of an extent than they did in 2018.
If the pattern between fundraising and electoral success holds, GovPredict forecasts that Democrats will at least maintain their current number of seats and are likely to slightly expand their majority in the Colorado Senate heading into 2021.
Fundraising in the Michigan House: Democrats Likely to Flip the Chamber
When significantly outraising Republicans, Democrats tend to gain several seats. In 2012, Democratic candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives raised nearly double the funds that Republican candidates did. In that year, they gained 4 seats but remained in the minority.
When fundraising is split more evenly, results usually favor Republicans. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans outraised Democrats, and either expanded or maintained their majority in the statehouse. In 2018, Democrats managed to gain 5 seats, but Republicans maintained a 58-52 majority in the chamber.
In 2020, Democrats have again raised nearly double the funds that their Republican counterparts have so far. This might indicate a similar result as 2012, with Democrats gaining a handful of seats. And if they gain more than 3 seats, Democrats will be the majority party.
If the pattern of fundraising follows a similar course as previous years, it is more likely than not that Democrats will gain enough seats to flip the chamber.
Using its sophisticated donor research tool, GovPredict was able to establish a pattern between fundraising and electoral success. By applying this analysis to the key battlegrounds, GovPredict forecasts that Democrats will maintain control in the Colorado Senate and flip the Michigan House.
Do you or your organization need a way to track political spending and navigate the complex world of campaign finance? Schedule a consultation with one of our experts to see how GovPredict’s Donor Research tool can go to work for you.