DATA RELEASE: New Tool Reveals $80M in Independent Expenditures Spent in California's 2014 Election

Sept. 29, 2015 -- MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money in politics, is pleased to make its California Independent Expenditures Search Engine freely available to the public. The search tool uses the California Secretary of State's CAL-ACCESS raw bulk data and updates daily.

Independent expenditures are payments made in support of or opposition to a candidate or ballot measure by major donors (including companies or individuals) and independent expenditure committees, which are operated by a variety of politically active organizations such as political parties, unions, and trade associations. The money, spent independently of a candidate or ballot measure committee, usually takes the form of a communication such as an advertisement, mailer, or robocall. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

MapLight analysts have incorporated many features into the dataset including standardization of candidate and ballot measure names, removal of duplicate filings, inclusion of unitemized independent expenditures, expender ID-specific searches, ability to download CSV file for further exploration, and more.

A MapLight analysis of independent expenditure data in the 2014 election cycle in California shows independent expenditure money spent on state-wide offices; a breakdown of expenditures by key races;
money spent in support of or opposition to candidates and ballot measures, as well as a breakdown of expenditures by gender.  Date range: Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2014  Data source: MapLight California Independent Expenditures Search

  • Major donor and independent expenditure committees spent $80,671,228 on candidates and ballot measures.
  • $56,914,682 (71%) of the $80,671,228 was spent in support of candidates and ballot measures, and $23,617,714 (29%) in opposition.
California Independent Expenditures by Candidate

Total Spent Supporting and Opposing Candidates by Office:

Legislative Chamber Total Amount
State Assembly $30,276,326
State Senate $24,940,763
Statewide Office Total Amount
Superintendent of Public Instruction $20,256,376
State Controller $961,088
Governor $665,357
Secretary of State $381,617
Board of Equalization $256,022
Attorney General $38,660
State Treasurer $27,128
Lieutenant Governor $26,528
Insurance Commissioner $12,229


Top 5 Races for State Assembly by Amount Spent:

District Amount Candidates
AD 16 $7,015,178 TIm Sbranti, Steve Glazer, Catharine Baker
AD 64 $3,186,354 Mike Gipson, Prophet Walker, Steve Neal
AD 66 $2,011,750 Al Muratsuchi, David Hadley
AD 9 $1,986,535 Jim Cooper, Darrell Fong, Tim Gorsulowsky
AD 17 $1,762,613 David Chiu, David Campos
 

Top 5 Races for State Senate by Amount Spent:

District Amount Candidates
SD 34 $4,882,306 Jose Solorio, Janet Nguyen
SD 6 $4,776,972 Richard Pan, Roger Dickinson
SD 16 $4,649,440 Andy Vidak, Leticia Perez, Ruth Musser-Lopez
SD 28 $3,202,263 Bonnie Garcia, Jeff Stone, Glenn Miller
SD 26 $2,731,498 Ben Allen, Vito Imbasciani, Sandra Fluke, Betsy Butler, Amy Howorth

 

Top Candidates by Amount Spent in Support:

Candidate Race Amount
Marshall Tuck Superintendent of Public Instruction $11,959,150
Tom Torlakson Superintendent of Public Instruction $4,269,488
Andy Vidak SD 16 $2,783,825
Richard Pan SD 6 $2,602,736
Tim Sbranti AD 16 $1,949,163
 

Top Candidates by Amount Spent in Opposition:

Candidate Race Amount
Marshall Tuck Superintendent of Public Instruction $4,027,738
Roger Dickinson SD 6 $1,671,504
Jeff Stone SD 28 $1,517,695
Jose Solorio SD 34 $1,454,749
Tim Sbranti AD 16 $1,138,474
 

Top Ballot Measures by Amount Spent in Support:

Ballot Measure Total Amount
Prop. 1 - Water Bond $593,378
Prop. 2 - Budget $191,965
Prop. 47 - Criminal Sentences $59,178
State fees on hospitals/federal medi-cal matching funds $1,116,190
 
Top Ballot Measures by Amount Spent in Opposition:
 
Ballot Measure Total Amount
Prop. 47 - Criminal Sentences $148,080
Prop. 48 - Indian Gaming $35,252
Prop. 1 - Water Bond $30,958
Prop. 46 -Drug and alcohol testing of doctors; medical negligence lawsuits $3,616
 

Total Amount Spent on Supporting Candidates by Party:

Party Total Amount
Democratic $30,957,032
Republican $11,369,147
No Party Preference $202,337
Non-partisan $12,200,510
 

Total Amount Spent on Opposing Candidates by Party:

Party Total Amount
Democratic $13,222,662
Republican $5,910,578
Independent $146,960
N/A $68,035
Non-partisan $4,031,822


Total Amount Spent in Support of a Candidate by Candidate's Gender: 

Gender Amount Average
Female $10,233,189 $243,647
Male $44,489,643 $408,162


Total Amount Spent in Opposition to a Candidate by Candidate's Gender: 

Gender Amount Average
Female $3,170,061 $75,478
Male $20,209,995 $185,413

 

Assembly District 16 (East Bay):

Tim Sbranti (D) and Catharine Baker (R) faced each other in the general election for Assembly District 16 in the East Bay, the assembly race with the most independent expenditures in the 2014 cycle. Baker, who won the election, became the first Republican to be elected from the Bay Area to the legislature since 2006. Sbranti, a former member of the California Teachers Association (CTA) State Council, received significant support from the CTA and other teacher groups. Baker received support from JobsPAC, a group backed by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Candidate Amount spent in opposition General Election Vote Count General Election Vote %
Tim Sbranti (D) $1,138,474 67,152 48.4%
Steve Glazer (D) $790,911 N/A N/A
Catharine Baker (R) $109,325 71,452 51.6%
Candidate Amount spent in support General Election Vote Count General Election Vote %
Tim Sbranti (D) $1,949,163 67,152 48.4%
Glazer, Steve (D) $1,590,228 N/A N/A
Catharine Baker (R) $1,437,079 71,452 51.6%

Senate District 34 (Long Beach, Anaheim):

Jose Solorio (D) and Janet Nguyen (R) faced each other in the general election for Senate District 34 representing portions of Long Beach and Anaheim. Many anticipated that the Democratic supermajority in the State Senate would rest on the outcome of the race for Senate District 34, encouraging spending from both the Democratic and Republican sides and making it the most expensive State Senate race in the 2014 cycle. Nguyen won the race, ending the Democratic supermajority in the State Senate.  

Candidate Amount spent in opposition General Election Vote Count General Election Vote %
Jose Solorio (D) $1,454,749 69,220 41.9%
Janet Nguyen (R) $1,129,718 95,792 58.1%
Candidate Amount spent in support General Election Vote Count General Election Vote %
Jose Solorio (D) $1,647,171 69,220 41.9%
Janet Nguyen (R) $650,668 95,792 58.1%

Methodology: MapLight analysis of California independent expenditures made by major donors and independent expenditure committees for election cycle 2013 from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014. All numbers are based on latest data made available by the California Secretary of State as of September 28, 2015.