Schaffer vs. Udall: Crunching the Numbers

The fundraising numbers for Colorado’s open U.S. Senate seat last month clearly mark this race as one that will be watched nationally.

U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, brought in $1,122,393.87, while his GOP opponent, state Board of Education member and former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, raised  $689,429.99.

Here’s a quick look at some details behind those numbers…

  • Both candidates are raising money from political action committees. Udall got about 25 percent of his total ($283,319.18) from PACs, while Schaffer got almost 18 percent of his total ($121,500.00) from such groups. Schaffer’s PAC donors included the National Rifle Association Victory Fund, Club for Growth and other business and conservative-oriented groups. Udall’s PAC donors included unions, energy interests, entertainment and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club.
  • Udall is raking in the cash from out-of-state, with more than half his itemized individual contributions from outside Colorado. His biggest donor state is California, with $103,800 in contributions. Schaffer received about a third of his itemized individual contributions from out of state, with Nevada donors leading the way at $32,567, followed closely by Texas at $28,000 and California at $27,250.
  • Schaffer received slightly more help from the Republican Party than Udall did from the Democratic Party, though that difference is likely to diminish as we near the 2008 elections. About 5 percent of Schaffer’s total came from the party, compared with 3.5 percent of Udall’s.
  • Schaffer also received a $27,618 transfer from the Senate Majority Committee, which isn’t technically affiliated with a political party but is managed by U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican. The money appears to be Schaffer’s share of the group’s fundraising, mostly in Las Vegas.
  • Schaffer’s 189-page filing is a bit of a mess. Many donors appear to have written $4,600 checks, with half that refunded and new $2,300 checks written by the same donors. Donors may give a maximum of $2,300 for the primary race (even if there isn’t one) and $2,300 for the general election. The refunds don’t show up as refunds, but as negative amounts under receipt filings.

Examining U.S. Senate numbers is considerably more difficult than looking at House races, because Senate candidates aren’t required to file electronic reports with the Federal Election Commission. Candidates may file electronic reports voluntarily, though the two Colorado candidates haven’t done that.

Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., are trying to pass a bill requiring electronic disclosure, but that bill is stalled.

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