Price of Admission and Incumbency

The Price of Admission

Running for Congress has never been an easy proposition, or an inexpensive one. But even in these years of low inflation, the cost of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives keeps climbing upwards, with no guarantee of success when all the votes are counted. Here’s how the numbers break down for the 2012 Election Cycle, based on data released by the Federal Elections Committee on April 16, 2013. Figures cover financial activity that took place between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012. Courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics.

For the U.S. House of Representatives, the average spent for a House seat during the 2012 election cycle (the most recent available) by the winners was:

  • All (435) $1,567,379
  • Democrats (201) $1,536,037
  • Republicans (234) $1,594,301

For the U.S. Senate, the average spent for a Senate seat during the 2012 election cycle by the winners was:

  • All (33) $10,202,896
  • Democrats (23) $11,899,175
  • Republicans (8) $7,189,128

Based on data released by the FEC on April 16, 2013. Figures cover financial activity that took place between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012. For more information, please click on the following link: Price of Admission to Congress

The Price of Incumbency

Even if they have impressive war chests, challengers still face long odds in taking on incumbent members of the House of Representatives.

The dramatically escalating cost of unseating incumbents can be seen in the charts below. In the tumultuous 1994 elections that brought Republicans control of Congress after more than 40 years in the minority, half-a-million dollars was enough to wage a competitive campaign with a 50-50 chance of winning. Today those odds aren’t so good. For further information, please click on the following link: The Dollars and Cents of Incumbency

Courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics.