The 2016 cycle will be remembered for the most expensive state legislative races in our state's history ... so far. In all $134 million was spent on races for the Illinois General Assembly and another $39 million remained in the campaign accounts of the the winners, their challengers and legislative leaders. These eye-popping totals do not even include the $50 million Governor Rauner recently added to his campaign account or the $10.4 million that federal superpac Leading Illinois For Tomorrow (LIFT) spent on anti-Trump ads that also tried to tie Trump to Rauner or the $11 million spent in the Comptroller's race. It also doesn't include the more than $2 million that the Governor's IE, Turnaround Illinois, spent on ads promoting term limits.

Not only was there a massive influx of money this cycle but also significant amounts of money were moved around within the system making it hard to keep track of all the money without double counting it. Throughout the cycle we were tracking money raised to try to keep track of how much could be spent. Now that the cycle is over we have switched gears tracking money spent (plus in-kinds which is also spending) which makes it easier to eliminate double counting. See below for an explanation on the methodology.

 

Legislative Spending Totals

Here are the traditional spending totals for the General Assembly, this does not include transfers out but it does include in-kinds.

Spending and In-Kinds1/1/15 to 3/31/164/1/16 to 12/31/16Total
Senate Democrats on the Ballot$3,821,809.35 $16,657,087.82 $20,478,897.17
Senate Democrats Lost Primary$666,833.59 $12,679.03 $679,512.62
Senate Democrats Not on the Ballot$1,821,571.22 $1,238,002.10 $3,059,573.32
Senate Republicans on the Ballot$2,164,004.26 $10,567,669.76 $12,731,674.02
Senate Republicans Lost Primary$481,869.06 $23,966.43 $505,835.49
Senate Republicans Not on the Ballot$356,638.27 $215,149.77 $571,788.04
House Democrats$11,643,285.77 $26,966,853.71 $38,610,139.48
House Democrats Lost Primary$2,769,853.00 $61,396.66 $2,831,249.66
House Republicans$3,232,609.76 $29,153,040.89 $32,385,650.65
House Republicans Lost Primary$1,111,305.92 $72,799.22 $1,184,105.14
Total$28,069,780.20 $84,968,645.39 $113,038,425.59

$75 million of that total was spent in the House compared to just $38 million in the Senate. Democrats actually spent more than the Republicans, $66 million to $47 million, led by the Senate Democrats who outspent their Republican counterparts $24 million to $14 million. In the House the Democrats outspent the Republicans $41 million to $34 million but much of that was due to the primary, in the general election the Republicans actually outspent the House Democrats $29 million to $27 million.

And here are the independent expenditure totals for the same period.

 
Total IE Spending1/1/15 to 3/31/164/1/16 to 12/31/16Total
Independent Expenditure Spending$11,129,206.51 $9,671,956.91 $20,801,163.42

Taken together that is $134 million that was spent on state legislative races in the 2016 cycle.

 

Available Funds Left Unspent

In addition to that total there was money left over, here are the combined cash on hand totals for all of the legislative candidates as of 12/31/2016.

Candidate Committee Totals12/31/16 COH
Senate Democrats$8,279,494.66
Senate Republicans$3,066,880.35
House Democrats$16,491,552.44
House Republicans$3,186,498.16
Total$31,024,425.61

And here are the remaining fund balances for the leadership committees.

Leadership Funds12/31/16 COH
Democratic Party of Illinois$2,856,471.32
Democratic Majority$1,064,490.82
13th Ward Democratic Org$806,853.09
Senate Democratic Victory Fund$446,650.14
Committee to Support John Cullerton for State Central Committeeman$0.00
Illinois Republican Party$217,206.30
House Republican Organization$15,047.71
House Republican Leadership Committee$56,637.83
Republican State Senate Campaign Committee$185,031.76
Total$5,648,388.97

In addition to the totals above 114th House District Republican candidate Bob Romanik has not yet filed his 12/31/16 quarterly report, as of 9/30 he had $2 million on hand. Taken together there is still another $39 million left in campaign accounts that could have been spent this cycle and will likely be used as a head start for next cycle.

 

Comptroller's Race

2016 Comptroller's RaceTotal Spend and In-Kind
Susana Mendoza$3,908,050.85
Leslie Munger$7,103,305.94
Total$11,011,356.79

The Comptroller's race cost $11 million. This total does not include the $3 million that Munger transferred to the party. Had she held on to that money and spent it on her own campaign this race could have even been more expensive.

 

Methodology

If you'd like to view the raw data that was used to calculate the above totals and/or you would like to perform your own analysis you can do so here.

The main problem with trying to figure out how much money was raised or spent on legislative races in a given cycle has to do with the potential for double counting money that was moved within the system. For example, the Governor started the cycle with $20 million in his account, all of which he moved to the Illinois Republican party. In turn they either spent some of that on legislative races as independent expenditures, spent some of that on legislative races which were reported as in-kind contributions to the campaigns or transferred it to the caucus leadership committees (HRO and the RSSCC). Those caucus committees either spent some of that on legislative races which were reported as in-kind contributions to the campaigns or made direct transfers to the candidate committees and then those candidate committees spent that money on their races. If you're not careful you could end up counting that same $20 million four times as it moved through the system and come up with $80 million when in reality it's just the same $20 million.

In order to eliminate double counting you can look at only the candidate committees of legislative candidates and only the spending line item (not transfers out) and the in-kind totals. Remember, even though our D-2's list in-kinds in the contribution section they are actually both a contribution and an expenditure. Add these up for all of the legislative candidate committees and you have your spending total.

You may be asking, what about all the money that the Governor had, or the state parties had, or the legislative leader committees had? For all of that money one of three things happened: 1) that ultimately got transferred down the chain to a candidate committee and the candidate committee spent those funds on their own race and is reflected in the totals above, 2) those party/leadership committees spent that money on behalf of a candidate committee and reported it to that candidate committee as an in-kind and then was reflected in the totals above or 3) those party/leadership committee spent it as an independent expenditure on behalf of a candidate committee and that spending is reflected in the totals above in the IE line item.

Now that the cycle is over just looking at the spending side allows us a much simpler method to determine the total amount of money involved without having to worry about double counting all the transfers of money.


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