chapter  5
32 Pages

Financing the 1996 Congressional Elections

The 1996 elections were the first to occur after the Republicans’ his­ toric takeover of Congress in 1994. Given that the GOP had majorities in both the House and Senate for the first time in four decades, the time was ripe for change in the flow of money in congressional campaigns. Nevertheless, the 1996 contests for the House and Senate were marked by both continuities and changes in campaign fund-raising and spend­ ing. Some of these were predictable; some were not. One area of continuity was that congressional candidates once again set new re­ cords for campaign financing, raising a total of $790.5 million and spending $765.3 million. Another predictable pattern was that incum­ bents and members of the majority party continued to raise and spend more money than challengers and members of the congressional mi­ nority. Among the predictable changes was that for the first time Re­ publican congressional candidates outspent their Democratic opponents. Among the unpredictable changes was the unprecedented number of supposedly independent political communications that par­ ties and interest groups made to improve their preferred candidates’ election prospects.