By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — Although Claire McCaskill is Missouri’s senator, they seem to love her in such places as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
An examination of election donations shows that McCaskill, a Democrat, is the only Missouri congressional candidate who gets more individual campaign support from outside the Show Me State than from within its borders.
Fifty-seven percent of the $6.3 million that McCaskill has raised for the 2012 campaign from individual donations comes from other states. The next highest is District 5 incumbent Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, who has raised 41 percents of his $269,000 from people in other states.
Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, whose website OpenSecrets.org tracks federal campaign finance, said incumbents who have spent time on Capitol Hill have built a wider network of contacts beyond their state’s borders.
“It’s not at all unusual for incumbents to have more out-of-state money,” he told Missouri Watchdog. “They have a set of financial constituents and a set of voting constituents and they’re not always the same.”
St. Louis and Kansas City are McCaskill’s top two metropolitan areas for donations. She has raised nearly $2.6 million from residents of Missouri’s largest cities. But she also has reaped $542,000 from New York, $412,000 from Washington, D.C., and $260,000 from Los Angeles.
Her opponent, Republican Todd Akin, has gotten less than 20 percent of his $1.5 million from individuals outside Missouri, a percentage not likely to change much after his controversial statements on rape and pregnancy led many in the GOP pledging to pull his funding.
His top out-of-state locales are Wheeling, W.Va. ($36,000) and Washington, D.C. ($23,000).
Biersack said U.S. Senate candidates are more likely than U.S. House candidates to get more money from other states. Those from the larger states tend to get more from their constituents, while those in more sparsely populated states often get more donations from such areas as California, New York and Texas.
Some of Missouri’s other congressional candidates have garnered at least one-fifth of their individual campaign funds elsewhere, including:
- District 8 Republican incumbent Jo Ann Emerson – 38 percent of $368,000
- District 6 Republican incumbent Sam Graves – 38 percent of $241,000
- District 1 Democratic incumbent William Lacy Clay, Jr. – 35 percent of $200,000
- District 4 Republican incumbent Vicky Hartzler – 20 percent of $589,000
These numbers only include donations from individuals of more than $200, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Include gifts from political action committees, and the totals go way up. McCaskill, for example, has raised more than $12.5 million overall.
OpenSecrets.org numbers also don’t include outside spending from the so-called super PACs, which have poured millions into the state for television advertising in the past few months.
Christopher Witko, associate professor of political science at St. Louis University, said he hasn’t seen a study on whether the outside influence might draw attention away from local issues.
He said he doubts that financial support would have a strong effect, as politicians will help their local constituents “whether they gave them money or not because they vote for them.”
Witko noted that some candidates attract more national attention. McCaskill, for example, now holds a key Senate seat in the parties’ fight to control that legislative body.
“I just don’t think it makes any difference in the end,” Witko said. “If you elect Claire McCaskill you know she will vote with the Democrats pretty much all the time, and if you vote for Todd Akin you know he pretty much will vote with the Republicans all the time.”
Contact Johnny Kampis at firstname.lastname@example.org.