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WHAT: On Wednesday, June 8, U.S. PIRG Education Fund will release an update to its report on the success of big-money candidates in congressional primaries. The update will amend the report to include the results of House and Senate races in California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Dakota, showing how often better-funded congressional candidates win their races. More congressional primaries will be hosted on June 7 than on any other day this election cycle.
WHO: U.S. PIRG Education Fund
WHEN: Wednesday, June 8
REPORT BACKGROUND: Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, mega-donors and special interest groups have flooded elections, up and down the ballot, with large contributions. In congressional races, fundraising success and the support of wealthy donors can often mean the difference between winning and losing an election.
As congressional primaries take place in states across the country, U.S. PIRG Education Fund is tracking the success of candidates running for the House and Senate based on their fundraising returns. So far this election cycles, 16 states have hosted congressional primaries. Based on U.S. PIRG’s analysis of those election results, candidates who raised more funds won their primaries 83 percent of the time.
While the influence of money in our political system extends beyond electoral wins and losses and has an impact on how candidates legislate once they win office, this report focuses on highlighting the electoral advantage provided by a better-funded campaign.
ISSUE BACKGROUND: Polls show that a vast majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support overturning Citizens United and revamping campaign finance laws in the U.S. This April, thousands of activists flooded Washington, D.C., to demonstrate for reforms as part of Democracy Awakening, a three-day mass mobilization supporting voting rights and fair elections.
In November of 2015, Maine and Seattle voters strongly approved clean election ballot measures to help refocus state and local elections on ordinary people over special interests and mega-donors. Localities including Arizona, South Dakota, Miami Dade County, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles are now considering similar legislative and regulatory reforms to empower small donors over special interest groups and big contributors in their elections. This year, California and Washington State may put referenda on the ballot asking voters whether they support overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that opened elections to super PAC and corporate spending. Advocates are also campaigning in Washington State for a ballot measure to create a statewide small donor empowerment program and pass new transparency and accountability measures.
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