"The Role of Campaign Contributions in the 1980 U.S. SenateElections"

Report Election Integrity

"The Role of Campaign Contributions in the 1980 U.S. SenateElections"

November 20, 1980 8 min read Download Report
Thomas R.
Senior Visiting Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

There were twenty-four Democrat-held and ten Republican-held seats at stake in the 1980 Senate elections. Two Democrats Stevenson and Ribicoff, as well as three Republicans, Schweiker, Bellmon and Young, had retired. One Republican senator, Javits was defeated in a primary while three Democrats, Gravel, Stone, and Stewart were also primary losers. This left six Republican incumbents and nineteen Democrat incumbents running in the general election.

The Republicans won twenty-two of the thirty-four races, including seven of the nine races for open seats caused by primary defeat or retirement, and retained all ten of the seats held by Republicans before the elections. All Republican incumbents won their races, while only ten of the nineteen Democrat incumbents won re-election

There will be sixteen new Republicans and two new Democracts in the Senate, which will consist of fifty-three Republicans forty-six Democrats, and one Independent.

It is interesting to note that when the new Senate convenes in January, fifty-four of the 100 senators (thirty-five Republicans and nineteen Democrats) will be serving their first terms, and only twenty-five senators (fifteen Democrats, nine Republicans and one Independent) will have been elected before 1970.

This short paper, consisting primarily of statistical tables, presents some analyses of the 1980 Senate Elections. Tables E and F, which contain some preliminary statistics about campaign finances, might be of special interest. Since the elections, much has been written about the connection between election victory and campaign contributions. There have been charges that the Republican landslide was simply "bought." Specifically, the electoral defeats of four of the most prominent Democrat liberals, Senators Bayh, Culber, Church and McGovern, have provoked many arguments. Yet, in three of the four races, excepting only the Culver vs. Grassley contest, the Democrat incumbent raised more in campaign contributions than his Republican challenger. And, this paper shows that in only eight of the eighteen races won by narrow margins (54 percent or less) did the winner receive more in campaign contributions than his opponent.

For two reasons, this paper does not deal with the controversial issue of independent expenditures by political action committees. First, no complete and up-to-date statistics are available as yet. Secondly, the question whether independent expenditures help or hinder candidates is based largely on speculation and is probably unresolvable. Equally unresolvable is the charge that in-kind contributions by labor unions-- contributions that are not required to be reported under the Federal Election Campaign Act-- are significant elements in the campaigns of liberal Democrats. That question is not dealt with here. Additionally, the much-discussed "power of incumbency," that is, the significant advantages that incumbents have in running for re-election, is not treated in this paper.


Hiqhlights of Tables A, B, and C of the Appendix

In the last three Senate ele ctions, the Republicans have done a much better job of protecting their incumbents than the Democrats. Twenty-four Democrat incumbents, but only seven Republican incumbents, have been defeated for re-election in the last three elections.

From Table B, it can be seen that the ability of the Democra- tic Party to control both Senate seats in individual states has declined continually since 1974. In that year, a plurality of states had two Democrat senators while today a plurality of states are split with one Democrat senator and one Republican senator. Additionally, the Republicans now hold both Senate seats in more states than the Democrats.

From Table C, it can be seen that the new Republican majority in the Senate has been constructed from states in the West and the South. In 1974, the West was split evenly between the two parties. Today, the Republicans hold a commanding 24-14 margin. The most remarkable Republican gains have been in the South where, it seems, the old "Solid South" has now been completely destroyed. In 1974, the Democratic Party still held both Senate seats in six states. Today, only two southern states (Arkansas and Louisiana) have two Democrat senators


Of the eighteen races where the margin of victory was narrow (54 percent or less) the Republicans were victorious in fifteen. Of the eleven Democrat incumbents who were involved in narrow races, eight were defeated. Of the sixteen Republican winners in narrow races, six collected more votes in their races than Reagan did in those states victory was wide (55 percent or greater) incumbents won eleven.


Tables E and F show the gross campaign receipts of all the major candidates for the Senate in the 1980 elections. These tables are based on each candidate's final pre-election report (October 23) to the Federal Election Commission. But that final report covers receipts only through October 15. So it must be noted that these statistics are very preliminary. The final totals will not be available from the FEC until the beginning of December. Additionally, since the receipts are gross unaudited receipts, the totals for some candidates might be inflated. Nevertheless, some highlights:

In twenty-one of the thirty-four races, the eventual winner received the most in contributions.

In only eight of the eighteen close races did the winner receive the most in contributions.

Twenty-six of the sixty-eight major candidates received more than $1 million in contributions.

Thirteen of these twenty-six were incumbents.

Only six of these incumbents were winners.

Only fourteen of the twenty-six millionaires were winners.

Four of the five receiving more than $2 million in contribu- tions were Democrats.

Of the twenty-six candidates receiving more than $1 million in contributions:

    eight were Republican winners

    seven were Democrat winners

    three were Republican losers

    eight were Democrat losers

Of the twenty-six candidates receiving more than $1 million in contributions:

    sixteen were involved in close races

    five of the remaining 10 were incumbents

In seven of the thirty-four races, both candidates received more than $1 million in contributions.


Table G shows a remarkable fact about the new Senate twelve of twenty chairmen of Senate committe es are from the West nine of the chairman of the fifteen major committees are from the West.

Table H shows which senators will be up for re-election in the 1982 and 1984 elections.

Thomas R. Ascik Policy Analyst

5 Table A After the Elections Primary Gener al Senate New Senators Incumbents Defeated Change of Seats of D R D R D R Ind D to R R to D 1974 9 2 1 1 0 2 1 5 1976 10 8 0 0 5 '3 1 7 8 1978 9 11 2 1 5 2 8 5 1980 2 16 3 1 9 0 12 0 Table B After the Senate Elections of 1974 1976 1978 1980 Senate Number of Number .of Number of Lineup States with States with States with 2 Dem. Senators 2 Rep. Senators 1 Dem 1 Rep. Other D-60 21 R-38 Ind-2 D-61 19 R-38 Ind-1 D-58 16 R-41 Ind-1 8 19 N.Y.-1 Rep.-1 Ind.

Va.-1 Rep.-1 Ind 7 23 Va.-1 Rep.-1 Ind.

R-53 11 14 D-46 Ind-1 7 26 Va.-1 Rep.-1 Ind 24 Va.-1 Rep-1 Ind .I 6 i 111 PI c, m cr rn E 3 PI cr 111 rl rl 0 3 4 PI111 5aJg 3 I d In U rl rl cv rl o o? rl o\\ rl o In In U I o? rl 0 cv 03 rl o In o I o? rl rl In U rl rl U 0 In 0 cv 03 d 0 rl In U 00 I o? rl d o 0 rl rl o rl cv U cv U d m 0 Qo o\\ rl A mu Prn m H 7 Table D 1980 Senate Races According to the Narrowness of the Victories Incumbent State Winner 54 or less (18 Wash Ind Iowa Ok. Ore. Mo N.H. Ala. Colo. Fla Pa. Vt. Wis.

Ga Ari. Ida. N.C. N.Y Go rto n (R) Quayle (R) Grass ley (R) Nickles(R Packwood(R Eagleton(D Rudman R) Denton(R) Hawkins(R Specter(R) Kas ten (R) Ma ttingly (R Goldwater(R Hart (D Leahy (D symms (R) East (R) D ha to (R 55% or more (16 La. Haw. Utah S.C. Ohio N.D. Md KY Kan Ark. Cal. N ev S.D.

Ill. Alas.

COM Long (D Inouye (D Gam (R Hollings (D Glenn (D Andrews(R Matthias(R Ford(D Dole (R Bumpers(D Crans ton(D Laxalt(R) Abdnor (R) Dodd (D) Dixon(D) Murkowski(R Winning Votes for x Winner 54 54 54 53 52 52 52 51 51 51 51 51 51 51 50 50 50 45 832,752 1,164,678 684,701 573,339 578,046 1,057,467 195,053 638,944 585,776 1,732,828 2,238,516 103,185 1,101,669 788,757 426,171 218,793 891,373 2,627,458 unopposed 78 224,485 72 595,210 71 2,731,377 71 189,170 66 811,925 65 719,679 64 595,194 59 473 , 132 59 4,638,488 58 143,781 58 190,726 57 765,126 56 2,494,254 55 65,924 74 433,943 Votes for Loser Reagan J Magnuson 763,631 *Bayh 1,231,295 *Culver 676,556 Coats 683,807 Kulongski 555,859 McNary 1,055,355 Durkin 221,771 Folsom 640,621 Buchanon 650,749 G u nter 1,937,269 Flaherty 2,251,058 Ledbetter 93,443 Nelson 1,089,75.0 Talmadge 870,483 Carter) Schulz 523,124 *Church 290,087 913,949 Holtzman 2,790,498 JI Morgan 796,240 Brown 135,879 Carter) Berman 435,839 Mays 445,414 Betts 2,202,212 Johanneson 173,825 C onroy 706,327 (Carter) Fous t 625,820 Simpson 562,848 Clark 402,946 Gann 4,447,266 Go j ack 154,570 McGovern 198,102 Buckle y 672,648 ''Neal 2,342,450 Gruening 66,874 8 Table E Candidates and Total Gross Campaign Receipts Based on the Final Pre-Election R eport to the Federal Election Commission (October 23, 1980 The Final Report Covers Receipts Only Through October 15.

Total Receipts 612,977 205,015 State Candidate Jeremiah Denton(R Jim Folsom(D Alabama Alaska Clark Gruening(D Frank Murkowski(R 410,183 304 ,045 Arizona Barry Goldwater(R Bill Schulz (D 534,360 1,389,443 267,213 69,466 Arkansas Dale Bumpers(D Bill Clark(R California Alan Cranston(D Paul Gann(R 2,675,975 445,061 Colorado Mary Buchanan(R Gary Hart(D 763,915 883,798 Connecticut James Buckley(R C h ris Dodd(D 1,362,996 1,111 109 Florida Bill Gunter(D Paula Hawkins(R 1,245,174 316,536 Georgia Mack Mattingly(R Herman Talmadge(D 338,630 1,925,863 Hawaii E. Cooper Brown(R Daniel Inouye(D 3,824 711,188 Idaho Frank Church(D Steve Symms(R Alan Dixon(D Davi d ''Neal(R 1,644,271 1,528,911 Illinois 2,129,180 1,145,843 Indiana Birch Bayh(D Dan Quayle(R 2,223,006 1,874,063 Iowa John Culver D Charles Grassley(R 1,385,447 1,635,276 Kansas Robert Dole(R John Simpson(D 1,033,628 294,9''7 I State Kentucky Louisiana Ma r yland Missouri Nevada New Hampshire New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania South Carolina South Dakota Utah Vermont 9 Candidate Wendell Ford(D) Mary Foust(R Russell Long(D Edward Conroy(D Charles Mathias(R Thomas Eagleton(D Gene McNa ry (R Mary Gojack(D Paul Laxalt(R John Durkin(D Warren Rudman(R Alfonse ''Amato(R Elizabeth Holtzman(D Jacob Javits (Liberal John East(R Robert Morgan(D Mark Andrews(R Kent Johanne s on (D James Betts (R John Glenn(D Andy Coats (D Don Nickles(R T ed Kulongoski(D Robert Packwood(R Pete Flaherty(D Arlen Specter(R) Ernest Hollings (D Marshall Mays(R James Abdnor(R George McGovern(D Dan Berman(D Jake Garn(R Patrick Leahy(D Stewart Ledbetter(R Total Receipts 560,306 1,974,412 133,128 807,722 1,142,854 9 61,331 137,644 990,698 516,558 338,608 1,244,757 1,661,929 1,674,888 897,961 645,281 280,634 123,353 367,496 1,148,947 766,786 456,325 161,157 2,783,071 418,487 1,039,826 932,002 52,311 1,383,448 2,695,438 188,110 896,811 452,828 392,933 10 State Washingt o n Wisconsin Candidate Slade Gorton(R Warren Magnuson(D Robert Ka s t en (R Gaylord Nelson(D Total Receipts 608,667 1,271,012 373,439 733,474 11 Table F Senators with receipts over $1 million (26 incumbent Packwood(R McGovern(D Cranston(D Bayh(D Dixon(D Lo ng (D Talmadge(D Quayle (R Javits(R Holtzman(D Church(D Grassley(R Schulz (D Culver(D Abdnor (R Buc kley (R Ma gnus on (D Gunter (D D ha to (R Glenn(D 0 Neal (R Eagleton(D Dodd (D Specter(R Dole (R symms (R Ore.



Ind Ill.


Ga Ind N.Y. N.Y. Ida.

Iowa Ida.


Iowa S.D.



Fla N.Y. Ohio Ill. Mo Conn Pa.

Kan 2,783,071 2,695,438 2,675,97.5 2,223,006 2,129,180 1,974,412 1,925,863 1,874,063 1,674,888 1,661,929 1,644,271 1,635,276 1,528,911 1,389,443 1,385,477 1,383,448 1,362,996 1,271,012 1,245,174 1,244,757 1,148,947 1,145,843 1,142,854 1,039,826 1,033,628 1 ,111,109 winner loser winner loser winner winner unopposed loser winner loser loser loser winner winner loser loser winner loser loser loser winner winner loser winner winner winner winner 12 Table G Probable Committee Chairman in the Next Senate Agricult u re Helms Appropriations Hatfield Armed Services Tower Banking Garn Budget Domenici Commerce Packwood Energy McClure Environment and Public Works Stafford Finance Dole Foreign Affairs Percy Government Affairs Roth Judiciary Thurrnond Labor and Human Resour c es Hatch Rules Veterans Simpson Select Committee on: Ethics Schmitt Indian Affairs Cohen Intelligence Goldwater Small Business Hayakawa Aging Heinz 13 1982 Senate Elections Democrats (20 DeConcini Chiles Ma tsunaga Mitchell Kennedy Riegle Stennis Me1 che r Zorinsky Cannon Wi 11 iams Moyni han Burdick Metzenbaum Sasser Bentsen Jackson Byrd (W.Va Proxmire Sa rbanes Byrd (Va Republicans 12 Hayakawa Weiker Ro th Lugar Danforth Durenberger Schmitt He inz Chafee Hatch Stafford Wallop 1984 Senate Elections Democr a ts (14 Heflin Pryor Biden NUM Huddleston Johns ton Ts onga s Levin Baucus Exon Bradley Boren Pel1 Randolph Republicans 19 Stevens Arms trong McClure Per cy Jepsen Kas sebaum Cohen Bos chwi t z Cochran Humphrey Domeni c i Helms Hatf ield Thurmond Pressler Baker Tower Warner Simpson


Thomas R.

Senior Visiting Fellow