Risky Business? Pac Decisionmaking in Congressional Elections

By Robert Biersack; Paul S. Herrnson et al. | Go to book overview

Table 9.3 How RPAC Did (or Did Not) Spend Its Funds
Year Available $a All Candidate
Aidb
% of Available
$ Spent on
Candidates
% Unspentc
1978 $2,076,640 $1,132,578 54.5 13.1
1980 $3,034,631 $1,606,471 52.9 15.1
1982 $3,500,244 $2,295,247 65.6 10.2
1984 $4,647,343 $2,786,484 60.0 16.6
1986 $6,452,977 $4,461,384 69.1 6.9
1988 $6,620,083 $4,378,190 66.1 10.4
1990 $5,995,305 $4,193,813 70.0 9.6
1992 $5,057,412 $3,941,154 77.9 2.3
Source: Federal Election Commission's Reports on Financial Activity (and Disclosure
Data Base for 1992).
Notes:
aCash on hand at the beginning of a two-year cycle plus total receipts during the cycle.
bContributions to and independent expenditures for Senate and House candidates, and
token contributions to presidential aspirants.
cUnspent money is the cash on hand at the end of a two-year cycle.

dramatically close to its goal of having "not one red cent left in the bank." 14 RPAC began the 1991-92 cycle with unspent funds of $577,848, spent almost $4 million to help electoral contestants, and had only $23,000 left on election day. During October 1992, RPAC felt compelled to give smaller donations to potentially competitive open-seat candidates than it would have liked because of its nearly empty coffers. This constraint of limited funds, caused by the combination of less available money and more incumbents receiving large contributions because they were in tight races, was unfortunate because RPAC judged the 1992 open-seat class to be better than usual, with many experienced business people and elected officials running.

The second difference between 1992 and past elections was a substantial increase in the NAR's efforts to involve local realtors in the campaigns of endorsed candidates. The NAR Opportunity Race Program was expanded from twenty-five House races in 1990 to thirty-three House and four Senate contests in 1992. Spending for the mailings and phone banks suggesting ways to assist a candidate increased from $209,144 to $527,213.


Conclusions

What is the explanation for RPAC behavior in 1992? The realtors viewed 1992 as a watershed election because of the unusual number of open seats; they applauded the caliber of new candidates appearing on the electoral scene. In the face of the reduced amount of money they had to spend, why did they not, for example, reduce their contributions to $1,000 for those House incumbents who were electorally secure, in order to increase the donations to attractive people in

-113-

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