|Total Itemized Contributions to Major Party Candidates for Federal Office in Texas, 1998-2002
Fund Raising and Political Advantage in Texas
Does money ensure electoral victory? Some recent Texas trends provide a few pieces of evidence. One way to answer this question is simply to look at who's raising the most money, and how successful they are at winning office. In these relatively simple terms, as the table above shows, it might seem that there is a direct relationship between money and electoral success. As a group, Republican candidates for federal office in Texas today typically outraise Democrats in the race for campaign cash; they also have been increasingly successful in winning elections as the Texas political system has become dominated by Republican elected officials.
The closer we look though, the more complex the relationship between money and politics becomes. As this slide show illustrates, over the last decade fundraising trends have become intertwined with the successes of the Republican Party in Texas, Southern states, and the nation as a whole. But is a fundraising advantage natural to Republican candidates? Do deep-pocket candidates inevitably win? How significant is incumbency status? How important is majority control of a legislative body?
Nailing down a direct relationship between money and electoral success remains an elusive business. But by tracking the fundraising and electoral victories of the Republican Party, and the parallel decline of the Democrats in both areas, we can perhaps see the suggested links. At the very least, fundraising is a necessary but not sufficient element of electoral success. In other words, money doesn't guarantee electoral success, but it is very difficult to keep winning elections without enough of it, as the next tab illustrates.