from the a-lot dept
The folks over at MapLight recently used Federal Elections Commission data on the 2012 elections to work out just how much it costs to win a seat in Congress:
- House members, on average, each raised $1,689,580, an average of $2,315 every day during the 2012 cycle.
- Senators, on average, each raised $10,476,451, an average of $14,351 every day during the 2012 cycle.
On the House side, there were a few clear outliers, topped by Michele Bachmann's $25,894,721 -- though I assume much of that was raised back when she was running for President -- so not particularly representative. The other outlier on the high end: Speaker of the House John Boehner's $22,024,288. No one else came even remotely close. Third place was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who took in $7,640,467. Note that Bachmann and Boehner actually raised more than any victorious Senate campaign, other than Warren's. The lowest amount raised? That would be Eni Faleomavaega (who?) who raised just $110,570. Of course, he's a non-voting "delegate" to the House, representing American Samoa's at-large district. Similarly, another non-voting delegate, Gregorio Sablan (from the Northern Mariana Islands) raised just $111,145. The lowest amount raised by a winning voting House member would be the $212,068 raised by Jose Serrano. The median amount in the House (including the non-voting members...) is $1,350,902 (for Rep. Janice Schakowsky). That's just a bit lower than the mean, which is probably the impact of the two massive outliers on the high end.
Of course, this data only looks at the winners, not the losers, and you could make a case that that data is pretty relevant as well. Still, the data makes it clear that successfully running for office requires a lot of money, which is why our politicians spend so much time fundraising. If all that fundraising kept them away from making bad laws, perhaps it would be a good thing, but, of course, part of the problem is that implicit in at least some of the fundraising effort is that these politicians will scratch the back of the donors -- which is how we end up in a world where so many politicians seem to focus on crony capitalism and rewarding those who fund their campaign, over what may be best for their actual constituents.