Last year, we saw a tremendous increase in campaign fundraising during the election season. Up and down the ballot, candidates raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the 2020 general election. However, grassroots donors on both sides of the aisle burned a significant amount of money on races that were never going to be winnable for them. Two prime examples of this squandering are Democrat Amy McGrath and Republican Kimberly Klacik. Neither of these candidates stood a chance in their election, yet both raked in millions for their campaigns, only to face defeat on Election Day. There were also grifter PACs that popped up last year, most notoriously The Lincoln Project, which raised an ungodly amount of money.
There are, of course, examples of futile campaigns that are not on the federal level. In the last stretch of the campaign season, the Wisconsin Democratic Party gave $100,000 to the Democrat running against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R), whose gerrymandered seat made it nearly impossible for him to ever conceivably lose.
With rage donations and grifters becoming more and more popular in the world of campaign finance, we at CNalysis decided to try and offer an alternative for small dollar donors who want to put their money where it counts. State legislative races, our bread and butter, are oftentimes dirt cheap compared to races on the federal level, so we are focusing on those.
So, by using a model created by our Head Oddsmaker, Jackson Martin, we are creating content on our Substack that will allow interested grassroots donors to figure out where they can get the biggest bang for their buck.
The Bang For Your Buck model uses a few input values to determine which seats are the best places to spend your money. The primary variables are the rating of the district, amount of money already raised, and the previous margin (as well as how close to the previous tipping point a district was).
Combining these allows us to create a “Value for Money” rating. These values essentially give higher weight to districts which had closer previous margins or that were closer to the previous tipping point.
There are also negative modifiers for overinvestment and major differentials in how much both parties have raised. The weights for these are as follows:
Previous margin: 25%
How close to previous tipping point: 15%
Amount already invested: 25%
District Rating: 35%
In 2021, we are using this for the Virginia House of Delegates races. Instead of using current campaign finance numbers, we are using the amount of money spent on the 2019 campaigns (not much has been raised thus far and using current numbers would create an uneven model). Come July 15, when post-primary reports are in and nominees have been selected, we will switch to the new data. In 2022, when we’ll be making a model for every chamber, we will only use the current financial data.
You can go here to subscribe for $5 a month to our newsletter that has our Bang For Your Buck content. Our first issue goes out on Thursday, and we will update our model every time we make a rating change or, as of July 15, when we get new campaign finance data.