In this week’s edition of The Political Edge, we review a new Pew Research study on the 2020 electorate, recap a McClatchy analysis showing that 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are vying for the same high-dollar donors, and continue to examine the year-end fundraising reports that were released last week.
The 2020 Electorate
With the 2020 election on the horizon, Pew Research Center conducted a study looking the 2020 voting electorate. Their analysis shows several surprising trends that may be useful for campaigns to keep in mind as they gear up for next year.
Young Voters: In 2020, members of Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z will account for 62% of the electorate, the study shows (Gen X – 25%; Millennial – 27%; Gen Z – 10%). Generation Z (those born after 1996) is expected to make up more than 10% of the 2020 electorate, surpassing the elderly Silent Generation for the first time. Generation Z is also both the most ethnically diverse and best-educated age cohort in American history — only 55% of that generation is white, compared with 74% of the Baby Boomer generation.
Baby Boomers: By contrast, the Baby Boom generation is beginning to lose political clout. Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will make up 28% of the electorate, still the largest generation by population but only narrowly edging out Millennials. Baby Boomers and older generations are expected to account for fewer than four-in-ten eligible voters in 2020. This is a significant change from 2000, when nearly seven-in-ten eligible voters (68%) were Boomers, Silents or members of the Greatest Generation.
Ethnicities: According to the study, one-third of all eligible voters will be nonwhite — a new high. Approximately 10% of potential voters are expected to have been born abroad, up from 6% in 2000. For the first time, Hispanic voters are expected to be the largest nonwhite portion of the electorate at 13.3%, overtaking black voters who are projected to make up 12.5% of the voting pool. That’s a big ongoing shift from 2000, when Hispanic voters accounted for just 7.4 percent of the electorate. Asian voters are projected to make up 4.7 percent of the vote in 2020, up from 2.5 percent in 2000.
2020 Democrats Vying For The Same Donor Pool
As more Democrats enter the 2020 presidential fray, it looks like there is going to be a fight over the limited pool of high-dollar donors. According to a new McClatchy analysis of campaign finance data, the Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump have hundreds of donors in common. Below are some key takeaways from their analysis.
“More than 1,500 donors have at some point thrown cash to three or more of the current or prospective Democratic contenders – collectively giving more than $9 million to their campaigns and committees.”
“No Democratic presidential contender took in more money from this group of donors than New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who collected $2 million over the course of her political career.”
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren was supported by the largest number of donors, more than half of whom contributed to her campaigns. Warren also shared the most donors in common with other candidates, having received donations from more than 200 donors who also gave to fellow Sens. Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders and Gillibrand.”
“The group of donors includes a mix of big names, such as singers Barbra Streisand and Nancy Sinatra. There is also J.J. Abrams, who is directing the latest installment of the Star Wars series, and Adam McKay, who directed Anchorman. And there are numerous billionaires, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, real estate developer Eli Broad and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.”
House: Year-End Money Fundraising Analysis
Last week, candidates and members of Congress were required to file year-end fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission. As other political analysts have had a chance to look over the data, several observations have been made. Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman noted that “many Democrats expected to be top Republican targets in 2020 ended last year with depleted campaign coffers.” She notes that “of the 23 freshmen in districts Trump won in 2016, 16 had less than $100,000 on hand at the end of the year. On average, these 23 freshmen had roughly $88,000 in the bank.”
Noah Rudnick at Decision Desk HQ crunched the final numbers and came up with several superlatives:
Outspending The Competition: “First up is wine distributor David Trone in Maryland’s 6th, who outspent his opponent by $15.9 million, more than the 62 cheapest House races combined. After spending $12 million in 2016 just to lose in a primary where one of his first events was a meet and greet outside of the district, Trone poured his heart and soul and deep pockets into this one to ensure a victory. Even this may be short-lived though, as the Supreme Court takes a look at his seat with a high chance of dismantling it next cycle.”
Most Spent: “The honor for most spent in a campaign this cycle, however, comes from Katie Hill, who knocked off incumbent Steve Knight in California’s 25th district by 8.7%. Her campaign plus Democratic outside spending ended up putting $22 million in total which comes out to about $165 per vote. This is more overall spending than 8 presidential contenders’ campaigns and roughly the same cash per vote as Rand Paul.”
Biggest Flop: “The dubious distinction of biggest flop goes to Pennsylvania’s 1st Democratic candidate Scott Wallace, who spent the most money on a losing campaign, just over $101 per vote and $16.3 million total while failing to capture the Bucks County-dominated seat. This had more even spending overall, but Wallace self-funded while outside groups rushed in to back his opponent from getting too overspent.”
Most Efficient: “The most efficient candidate was Texas’ 24th Democratic candidate Jan McDowell, who only spent $93,380, one of the lowest candidate totals, but rode Beto-mania to losing the contest by just under 3%-an incredible 75 cents per vote in the end. While this is an impressive performance, the lackluster fundraising and spending may mean McDowell is not in a strong position with the national party to run again in 2020, if this race gets attention.”