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A greater power than money?

Monday, Oct 31, 2016

* It’s incumbency

By analyzing data from state legislative races across the country in 2013 and 2014, the Montana-based National Institute on Money in State Politics determined that voters re-elected 91 percent of incumbents running in general elections. Current officeholders who raised more campaign cash than their opponents were even more likely to retain their seats, winning 94 percent of their races.

“Incumbency was the most powerful single factor determining a state legislative candidate’s success in the 2013 and 2014 elections, followed closely by the power of money,” Linda Casey, the institute’s lead researcher, wrote in a March report. The trend has held relatively steady since the 2001 and 2002 state election cycles, according to the institute.

The power of incumbency was even stronger in Illinois in 2014, with only one incumbent out of 124 — former state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline — losing in the general election. Three other incumbents, two Democrats and one Republican, withdrew after the primaries. […]

Jacobs’ defeat at the hands of now-Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, was a rare loss for an incumbent who raised more money than his challenger. Jacobs spent $2.1 million to Anderson’s $1.9 million in the most expensive legislative race in Illinois history, according to an analysis from Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Those dollar amounts almost seem quaint these days.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


11 Comments
  1. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 10:30 am:

    60+% of them are routinely unopposed in Illinois, so what’s another 30%?


  2. - Publius - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 10:34 am:

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein


  3. - Annonin' - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 10:39 am:

    Someone ought to give this Montana based think tank(that should bring a smile)and ask about this wrinkle. Then fill her in on the fake radion/newspapers/movies as off the books spendin’ and see what the institute opines on that one.


  4. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    It’s always the other guy’s elected official that’s the problem. We tend to like and think highly of our own representatives - we wouldn’t be so stupid as to elect someone unworthy of our trust. So, it’s totally your fault.


  5. - Chucktownian - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    We have a higher re-elect rate than the Soviet Politburo and have for decades.

    Rauner’s spent all this money for pretty much no purpose. And he’ll lose some of the ones he wanted to win.


  6. - Team Sleep - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 11:06 am:

    Commonsense - that is an EXCELLENT point.


  7. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    “It’s always the other guy’s elected official that’s the problem.”

    Speaking as a voter in Illinois’s 6th congressional district, I must respectfully disagree.

    – MrJM


  8. - NoGifts - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 11:23 am:

    I don’t agree that a different person is necessarily a better person. And the different person will have fewer legislative relationships and less experience.


  9. - Sir Reel - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 11:33 am:

    Given these results, why are term limits so popular?

    Oops. There I go again, assuming logic plays a role in the public’s thought process


  10. - Mama - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 4:06 pm:

    “There I go again, assuming logic plays a role in the public’s thought process”

    When did the parents and the schools stop teaching logic?


  11. - Chucktownian - Monday, Oct 31, 16 @ 4:15 pm:

    If you check around, term limits lead to government by lobbyists. Of course Illinois doesn’t have them and, well, okay I give up.


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