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States with the most money in politics

  • States with the most money in politics

    Politics on a state-by-state level is intriguing, given that so many different factors influence how people vote in a particular state. States with voters who heavily contribute to politics tend to be more controversial and often make for political battlegrounds.

    What's particularly interesting to note is that some states invest heavily in one party at the state level but support the opposite one regarding national politics. Another point of interest is that most people contributing to politics in the majority of states are retired. Perhaps most importantly, the data listed here can provide an overall impression of how each state may vote in the upcoming presidential election.

    To find the states with the most money in politics, Stacker consulted two data sources over the 2019–2020 election cycle. Open Secrets data from August 2020 was used to find each state's contribution to national races. Data from the National Institute on Money in Politics was used to find each state's contribution to local and statewide races. While state and local data are exhaustive, due to differences in disclosure and contribution requirements between states and localities, it is not conclusive. Identifiers such as party affiliation may also be missing.

    Data points are defined below:

    - Average contribution per eligible voter is the total national and state contributions combined divided by the number of eligible voters in each state. The number of eligible voters per state was found using Census Bureau data from 2018. This data point also ranks states.

    - Open Secrets define total national race contributions as including PAC contributions to candidates, individual contributions ($200+) to candidates and parties, Levin Fund contributions to parties, and soft money contributions to outside groups, but not including individual contributions to PACs. As a result, some contributions may be double-counted due to overlap or not counted due to missing identifiers.

    - Soft money contributions are contributions to a prevailing party or committee where the purpose is not to promote a specific candidate. Soft money contributions are outside the requirements of campaign finance law and can be unlimited.

    - The total state contributions statistic is calculated based on the disclosure requirements of each state. This represents the amount of money given by citizens of that state to state/local elections anywhere in the country.

    - The total money within state/local elections is the total amount of money used in that state's local and state races, subject to each state's disclosure requirements.

    Wondering where your state ranks? Click through to find out which states have the most money in politics.

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  • #50. Alabama

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $11.82 (3,609,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $42.7 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $35.9 million (#29 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $35.2 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $8.7 million (24.9% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $25.3 million (72.1% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $2.4 million
    - Soft money contributions: $1.8 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($6.9 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Real Estate ($2.6 million)
    --- #3 Industry: Lawyers/Law Firms ($1.3 million)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $6.8 million (#38 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $399.5 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $3.4 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $2.9 million (#39 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $101.2 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $2.8 million

    Alabama’s state Senate is expected to flip during the next election from incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones to Republican Tommy Tuberville (supported by President Donald Trump). Jones hopes to secure the Black vote in Alabama and remain in his current position.

  • #49. South Dakota

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $13.30 (637,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $8.5 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $7.2 million (#48 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $7.0 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $1.9 million (26.7% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $5.0 million (71.5% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $870.3 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $341.4 thousand
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($1.7 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Leadership PACs ($573.0 thousand)
    --- #3 Industry: Misc Energy ($413.4 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $1.3 million (#49 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $38.5 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $448.9 thousand
    - Total money within state/local elections: $399.9 thousand (#49 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $11.5 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $388.4 thousand

    In May of 2015, Super PACs in South Dakota were prohibited by law from making donations to candidates. Additionally, corporations and unions are not allowed to contribute to politics in South Dakota.

  • #48. Idaho

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $13.42 (1,226,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $16.5 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $12.1 million (#42 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $11.9 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $5.2 million (43.5% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $6.5 million (54.8% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $689.3 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $1.3 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($3.7 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Livestock ($1.2 million)
    --- #3 Industry: Real Estate ($741.6 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $4.4 million (#43 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $826.7 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $2.2 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $3.4 million (#38 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $869.6 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $2.4 million

    Corporations, unions, and individuals can all contribute to politics in Idaho, but all three are limited. Contributions to statewide candidates cannot exceed $5,000, with a cap of $1,000 for state Senate and no more than $1,000 to assembly candidates.

  • #47. South Carolina

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $13.68 (3,769,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $51.6 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $35.7 million (#30 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $35.3 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $16.5 million (46.7% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $18.4 million (52.2% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $953.7 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $879.5 thousand
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($9.6 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Lawyers/Law Firms ($2.5 million)
    --- #3 Industry: Real Estate ($1.3 million)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $15.8 million (#26 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $4.2 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $10.4 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $15.1 million (#21 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $4.5 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $10.5 million

    Current state Sen. Lindsey Graham may be unseated in the upcoming election by Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison. South Carolina hasn’t voted Democrat since 1976, but the Senate race could go either way this year, with democrats heavily funding Harrison’s campaign.

  • #46. Nebraska

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $14.19 (1,332,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $18.9 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $14.8 million (#41 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $13.9 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $5.5 million (39.9% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $8.1 million (58.4% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $641.9 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $1.2 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($4.1 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Education ($664.7 thousand)
    --- #3 Industry: Crop Production & Basic Processing ($493.2 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $4.1 million (#45 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $185.6 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $212.6 thousand
    - Total money within state/local elections: $4.5 million (#36 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $56.9 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $1.1 thousand

    At the national level, Nebraska voters contribute more to Republicans, but things change on the state level, with Democrats obtaining more donations than Republicans. Nebraska has no limits set on the amount of donations individuals, unions, and corporations can contribute to politics at any level.

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  • #45. North Dakota

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $14.55 (541,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $7.9 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $6.8 million (#49 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $4.7 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $1.3 million (28.1% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $3.3 million (69.3% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $481.5 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $2.2 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Electronics Mfg & Equip ($1.8 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Retired ($958.3 thousand)
    --- #3 Industry: Retail Sales ($519.3 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $1.1 million (#50 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $46.1 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $424.0 thousand
    - Total money within state/local elections: $830.0 thousand (#48 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $54.2 thousand
    --- Total to Republicans: $733.7 thousand

    North Dakota’s Gov. Doug Burgum (a former tech mogul) has donated almost $900,000 of personal money to the newly formed Dakota Leadership PAC, which has caused some turmoil and is expected to upset current state politics. It's interesting to note that most people donating to political parties in North Dakota come from the electronics manufacturing sector, even though electronics manufacturing is not the state's most significant industry.

  • #44. West Virginia

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $15.09 (1,384,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $20.9 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $6.6 million (#50 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $6.4 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $2.6 million (40.3% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $3.7 million (57.9% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $171.6 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $219.5 thousand
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($1.7 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Civil Servants/Public Officials ($310.1 thousand)
    --- #3 Industry: Lawyers/Law Firms ($267.7 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $14.3 million (#29 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $2.9 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $9.1 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $18.2 million (#19 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $5.2 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $10.5 million

    Individuals and unions in West Virginia can donate no more than $1,000 to individual campaigns but can donate an unlimited amount to ballot measure campaigns (as is the case with corporations in the state). Interestingly, West Virginia was a strongly Democratic state until the mid-1990s, when it began voting Republican.

  • #43. Tennessee

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $15.42 (5,016,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $77.3 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $61.0 million (#21 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $56.6 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $19.0 million (33.6% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $36.7 million (64.7% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $4.4 million
    - Soft money contributions: $5.5 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($12.8 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Real Estate ($2.1 million)
    --- #3 Industry: Oil & Gas ($2.0 million)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $16.3 million (#25 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $3.0 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $8.4 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $11.9 million (#26 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $2.6 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $9.2 million

    Republicans are typically popular in Tennessee's rural parts, but Democrats tend to rule the major cities. Unions, corporations, and individuals can donate up to $4,000 to statewide candidates and $1,500 to legislative candidates.

  • #42. Ohio

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $15.95 (8,640,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $137.8 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $83.0 million (#15 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $76.3 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $31.5 million (41.3% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $42.5 million (55.7% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $7.2 million
    - Soft money contributions: $9.2 million
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($19.0 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Real Estate ($4.1 million)
    --- #3 Industry: Misc Manufacturing & Distributing ($3.8 million)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $54.7 million (#11 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $6.7 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $20.2 million
    - Total money within state/local elections: $26.1 million (#12 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $6.2 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $19.9 million

    There is a limit on the amount of money that individuals and corporations can donate to politics in the state of Ohio. However, there is no limit on the amount that nonprofits can donate (and those organizations do not have to disclose where or how donated funds are generated).

  • #41. Hawaii

    - Average contribution per eligible voter: $16.27 (971,000 eligible voters)
    - Total contributions: $15.8 million

    National race statistics:
    - Total contributions: $10.7 million (#44 in the nation)
    - Total to candidate/party: $10.5 million
    --- Total to Democrats: $7.4 million (70.9% of total)
    --- Total to Republicans: $2.9 million (27.4% of total)
    - PAC contributions: $50.0 thousand
    - Soft money contributions: $720.6 thousand
    - Top industries of contributors:
    --- #1 Industry: Retired ($2.3 million)
    --- #2 Industry: Civil Servants/Public Officials ($419.4 thousand)
    --- #3 Industry: Democratic/Liberal ($392.7 thousand)

    State/local race statistics:
    - Total state contributions: $5.1 million (#40 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $3.6 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $288.8 thousand
    - Total money within state/local elections: $5.0 million (#34 in the nation)
    --- Total to Democrats: $4.4 million
    --- Total to Republicans: $318.9 thousand

    Individuals, corporations, and unions in Hawaii are limited when it comes to party donations. All three can donate up to $6,000 to candidates for governor, $4,000 at the Senate level, and $2,000 at the state House level.

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