Early Money Shows 2014 Political Patterns
Looking at the financial trends on key races, however, paints a slightly different picture. The anti-incumbency wave is well-funded, and a lot of the money is coming from outside the incumbents' districts.
"There may be business groups or PACs trying to send a message," with early donations, notes Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics .
That seems true, as I found by diving into the financing of key contests that may decide who controls the House in 2015. As a guide, I found two districts the Cook Political Report rates as "toss-ups," one held by a Republican, another by a Democrat. I also looked at a district where a Republican incumbent already faces competition from an insurgent identified with the "Tea Party."
I focused my examination on contributions made in September, as the shutdown controversy gained steam. Here is what I found.
In Colorado They Act Blue
One of the more interesting races is shaping up in Colorado's 6th Congressional District, the southern suburbs of Denver, where incumbent Republican Mike Coffman faces Andrew Romanoff, a former state legislative leader who lost the 2010 Democratic Primary to current Senator Michael Bennett.
For the third quarter the money race seems very close, with Romanoff raising about $524,000 and Coffman $461,000 . But while Coffman drew 26% of his haul in September, during the run-up to the shutdown, Romanoff raised 62% of his quarterly stake during that period.
How did he do it? Mainly through a Political Action Committee called ActBlue, which matched many of the individual contributions he got during the quarter, dollar for dollar. Partly as a result Romanoff's Federal Election Commission or FEC form for the period runs to four pages, with 1979 entries. ActBlue matched contributions as small as $10, and as big as $2,600. Each match is a separate entry on the form.
As a result, Romanoff appears to have drawn a haul of $326,315 from individuals. You should discount that, given the PAC's involvement. Yet even if you cut that in half to $167,000, it still beats Coffman's $56,140 from individuals during the month by more than three-to-one. Was that $167,000 even partly the result of ActBlue's match offer? Probably, but it's still a lot of money.
Coffman remains competitive, financially, thanks to an early start and business contributors, a benefit of incumbency. These groups donated almost $70,000 to his campaign during September alone. At least in this district, Democrats seem fired up and ready to go.
But what about a marginal district Democrats have to defend?