Democrats Win Fundraising Race, Lose Elections

February 01, 2017 08:49 PM

Democrats won the fundraising battle in Minnesota in 2016, but lost the war. 

Democratic and Democratic-leaning groups spent nearly three times as much on Minnesota elections as their Republican counterparts.

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"This is a devastating record for DFL donors," said Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute. "They put up an enormous amount of money and got nothing in return."

Most of the money was spent on state legislative races where all 201 seats were in play. Republicans ended up taking control of the Minnesota Senate and expanded their majority in the House. It's only the second time in nearly 50 years Republicans have controlled both the House and Senate.

The Senate DFL Caucus spent $5.38 million and the House DFL Caucus spent $4.63 million, a total of more than $10 million. The House GOP sent $2.92 million and the Senate GOP spent about $1.36 million, a total of $4.3 million.

The Democratic advantage was even more pronounced among the state political parties and outside spending groups.

The Minnesota DFL Party spent more than $10 million and a major Democrat-leaning group, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, spent $6.7 million, for a total of nearly $17 million.

By comparison, the Minnesota Republican Party spent $1.26 million. A variety of GOP-leaning groups, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Northstar Leadership Fund (affiliated with the Minnesota Business Partnership) and the Housing First Fund raised another $4.9 million combined.

Jacobs says Democrats winning the fundraising battle and losing the election war might have been part of the "Trump effect" and his anti-incumbent message. "We're seeing increasingly where a national message can overwhelm even a significant fundraising advantage as we've seen in Minnesota," Jacobs said after reviewing the numbers.


Tom Hauser

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