Washington Campaign Finance

Interactive data provides detailed contributions to Washington politicians

By: Trends Staff

Campaign contributions are a vital part of state and local politics, and much can be learned about the candidate, the election, and the democratic process through their analysis. The State of Washington’s data portal has compiled the Campaign Finance data of Washington state candidates and political committees into an interactive data set, with raw data provided by the Public Disclosure Commission. This interactive data set allows one to research the campaign contributions of any candidate or office, see contributions over time, as well as where in the country the contributions came from for all Washington state elections since 2007. Campaign contributions include both cash and in-kind contributions. The data shows local, legislative, and statewide candidates, though information for the local offices shown are limited.

This data can be utilized to analyze the contributions to different candidates for one office in one election. The 2020 gubernatorial election serves as a good example. We can compare the two candidates that advanced to the General Election: Jay Inslee (D), the incumbent, and Loren Culp (R).

For the 2020 election, Inslee had garnered $8,135,532.30 in campaign contributions while Culp collected $3,333,084.01. Inslee’s biggest contributor was the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, who produced $1,547,862.75 of Inslee’s total contributions. Culp’s biggest contributor was small contributions, which garnered $261,141.00 in total. Inslee raised $374,848.08 in small contributions.

Jay Inslee’s reelection aligns with the trend of incumbent advantage. Incumbent candidates have a better ability to raise campaign contributions for re-election due to name recognition and familiarity. Incumbents can raise more, spend more, and thus have a better chance at re-election. Inslee was also advantaged by the contributions from the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, which earns its contributions primarily by donations from groups and individuals.