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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Key Democratic State Parties Have Financial Edge


While President Obama and Mitt Romney crisscross the nation raising money for their campaigns, in the battleground states Republican and Democratic organizations have been laying the groundwork for voter organization and turnout for the November election. Much of the money for those efforts comes from the national party organizations - the Democratic and Republican National Committees, plus several Congressional party arms - that has been sent to the states from Washington.

A new graphic shows the changes in state party finances since the beginning of 2011 through July 31 for Democratic and Republican committees in eight crucial states rated as “tossups” in the presidential election. Democratic state p arties overall have raised more money than their Republican counterparts, although their cash available as of July 31 was more mixed, with the G.O.P. holding cash advantages in Florida and Wisconsin. That is in part because of heavy spending by Democratic state parties in states such as Nevada, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia. The Democratic National Committee and Obama's campaign have also donated in-kind equipment, including telephones and computers, to some state parties.

State parties typically maintain two accounts - one organized under federal election rules and another that is subject to state campaign laws. The graphic shows only the federal account, but that is where most of the state party activity will occur in a federal election year. Under Federal Election Commission regulations, any party committee spending that could affect the outcome of a Congressional or presidential election must be paid for at least in part with money from the federal account (there is some mixing of money from the two accounts).

Most of the tossup states have seen steady increases in state party finances starting near the end of 2011, but two states require some additional explanation. In Wisconsin, the failed attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican elected in 2010, attracted millions in outside spending and in donations to the state parties. In Florida, what appears to be a decline in the finances of the Republican Party of Florida is because of a change in its filing schedule; it filed a single report in July 2011 and began reporting monthly in November. As a result, it appears that the party's fund-raising dropped off, but in fact this is due to switching from reporting several months of activity at once to doing so on a monthly basis.

Not all of the money raised by state parties will be dedicated to the presidential race. Of the eight states shown, five have competitive Senate races and there are cru cial House races in several. The total amount raised by the party committees includes transfers from the national party House and Senate campaign committees.