DATA RELEASE: House Raised 79% of Funds from Outside Voters' Districts

BERKELEY, CA, October 29, 2008 - MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group that illuminates the connection between money and politics, issued a report today entitled 'Remote Control,' which shows the geographic origin, down to Zip code, of in-district and out-of-district campaign contributions for all members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The research reveals that Representatives raised $700 million in campaign funds from January 2005 - December 2007. $551 million of these funds, or 79%, came from out-of-district. $146 million of these funds, or 21%, came from in-district. The remaining $3 million of campaign funds (0.5%) could not be definitively located as in-district or out-of-district. (Campaign contribution data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.)

In other words, legislators raised about four out of every five dollars in campaign funds from outside of where their constituents live.

"Instead of a voting democracy, we have a dollar democracy--may the biggest-spending special-interest win," said Daniel Newman, MAPLight.org's co-founder and executive director.

"To win an election, a House candidate has to raise an average of $1.3 million in campaign funds--that's $2,500 every working day for an entire two year term," said Newman. "With such a herculean fundraising effort required, what time and attention do Representatives have left to address the interests of the voters they represent? We, as citizens, pay House members' salaries, we pay to run elections and we pay for all their spending decisions. However, we, as citizens, have handed special-interests the remote control, forcing our potential leaders to grovel before PAC leaders and lobbyists to raise the funds needed to win elections."

MAPLight.org's research team analyzed contributions to all legislators from each state and from Washington, DC. Washington, DC is the top location for contributors; it is the source of $146,807,711, which is 21% of all contributions. With only 0.2% of the U.S. population, Washington, DC has fewer residents than every state except Wyoming. Washington, DC and its surrounding areas are home to scores of lobbying firms and political action committees.

Of the top 20 Zip codes contributing to U.S. House members, 15 are in Washington, DC and its surrounding areas.

For 99% of U.S. House members (418 out of 421), Washington, DC was among their top 5 contributing states.

"With out-of-district fundraising at a staggering 80%, the problem is not with a few individual House members," said Newman. "This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for big oil and Wall Street, but not for voters. We as citizens need to grab the remote control back from the hands of big-money interest groups. We need to reform our broken system so that Representatives can focus on voters, not dialing long-distance for dollars."

Below, MAPLight.org's research team reveals Funds Raised from Out-of-District, Top Contributing Zip Codes, Top Contributing States and Statistics for Individual House Members (Sample-Nancy Pelosi).

High-resolution maps and data points for all House members are available for download by visitiing the desired legislator's page at MAPLight.org. Click on Money Map.

For House member contribution data including funds raised in-district, out-of-district, in-state, out-of-state; ranking of contributions received by Zip code; and ranking of contributions received by state, see full report, Remote Control.

Funds Raised from Out-of-District:

Almost all House members, 97%, raised more than half of their funds from outside their congressional districts.

Five House members raised 99% or more of their funds from outside their congressional districts.

Only 13 House members, or 3%, raised most of their funds from within the district where their voters live.

Top Contributing Zip Codes:

Rank Zip Code
Contributions ($)
% of Total
#1 Washington, DC 20005                   28,851,410
4.14%
#2 Washington, DC 20001                   27,501,614
3.95%
#3 Washington, DC 20036                   27,498,273
3.95%
#4 Washington, DC 20006                   21,832,335
3.13%
#5 Washington, DC 20004                   17,821,677
2.56%
#6 Alexandria, VA 22314                   12,152,407
1.74%
#7 Washington, DC 20007                    5,824,832
0.84%
#8 Chicago, IL 60611                    5,344,990
0.77%
#9 Mc Lean, VA 22102                    5,236,354
0.75%
#10 Arlington, VA 22209                    5,160,618
0.74%
#11 Washington, DC 20003                    4,322,563
0.62%
#12 Arlington, VA 22202                    4,143,208
0.59%
#13 Arlington, VA 22203                    3,622,991
0.52%
#14 San Antonio, TX 78205                    3,563,309
0.51%
#15 Washington, DC 20002                    3,455,842
0.50%
#16 Washington, DC 20016                    3,077,862
0.44%
#17 Falls Church, VA 22042                    2,829,696
0.41%
#18 New York, NY 10019                    2,707,463
0.39%
#19 Atlanta, GA 30328                    2,682,019
0.38%
#20 New York, NY 10021                    2,523,789
0.36%

Almost all House members, 417 out of 421 (99%), had at least one Washington, DC Zip code among their top 10 contributing Zip codes.

The top 100 Zip codes made up 40% of total contributions from all Zip codes.

For a list of the top 100 Zip codes and their contribution amounts, see Table 2 of the report, Remote Control.

Top Contributing States:

Rank State
Contributions ($)
% of Total
#1 DC                 146,807,711
21.1%
#2 VA                   63,199,846
9.1%
#3 CA                   58,737,935
8.4%
#4 NY                   43,591,214
6.3%
#5 TX                   41,155,680
5.9%
#6 IL                   34,249,350
4.9%
#7 FL                   33,254,038
4.8%
#8 PA                   22,684,581
3.3%
#9 NJ                   19,422,076
2.8%
#10 MD                   18,757,019
2.7%

Washington, DC, is the top location for contributors; it is the source of $146,807,711, which is 21% of all contributions.

For 99% of U.S. House members (418 out of 421), Washington, DC was among their top 5 contributing states.

For 19% of U.S. House members (81 out of 421), Washington, DC was their number one contributing state.

Washington, DC, with only 0.2% of the U.S. population, has fewer residents than every state except Wyoming.

For a list of all states and their contribution amounts, see Table 1 of the report, Remote Control.

Statistics for Individual House Members:

Nancy Pelosi, (D, CA-8)

Received 87% of campaign contributions ($2,813,298)
from outside her district. (Rank: 133 out of 421.)

Received 70% of campaign contributions ($2,277,948)
from outside her state. (Rank: 88 out of 421.)

Pelosi

Download high-resolution map (3MB)

High-resolution maps and data points for all House members are available for download by visiting the desired legislator's page at MAPLight.org. Click on Money Map.

Pelosi: Top 10 Contributing Zip Codes

Washington, DC 20006 $234,200
Washington, DC 20001 $190,100
Washington, DC 20005 $180,350
Washington, DC 20036 $177,800
Washington, DC 20004 $161,100
San Francisco, CA 94118 $65,100
San Francisco, CA 94109 $53,650
San Francisco, CA 94111 $52,300
Washington, DC 20016 $52,250
San Francisco, CA 94105 $48,810

Pelosi Top 5 Contributing States

District Of Columbia $1,150,850
California $935,510
Virginia $180,100
New York $160,450
Texas $135,550

Methodology:

This study included all contributions from January 2005 through December 2007, excluding individual contributions of less than $200 and contributions from political parties, other candidates and leadership PACs. We used campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics, whose data is based on reports that candidates and contributors are required to file with the Federal Elections Commission.

We examined contributions to 421 House members: all House members who were currently serving as of October 15, 2008, excluding House members who were elected or appointed after November 2006, members who lost primaries prior to June 1, 2008 and members from the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Candidates are required to report to the Federal Elections Commission the address for each individual donor who contributes $200 or more. We used this address data to determine the Congressional district of each contributor. For contributions from PACs, we used the street address reported by the PAC. To geographically locate each of the 715,000 contributions, we partnered with Avencia Inc., a software development firm specializing in mapping solutions that employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

For additional details, please see Methodology section on page 9 of the report, Remote Control.

Project Funding:

MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit research group, is funded by the following foundations, and by individual donors: Sunlight Foundation, John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Columbia Foundation, JEHT Foundation Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Rockefeller Family Fund, Threshold Foundation and William B. Wiener Foundation.

About Avencia:

Avencia is an award-winning software development firm that specializes in design and development of web-based mapping solutions that employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The firm was incorporated in 2000 to design and develop technologically advanced solutions to meet challenges best addressed through geospatial analytic approaches. For more about Avencia, visit: http://www.avencia.com.

About MAPLight.org:

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via a database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. Data sources include: GovTrack.us; Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org); Federal Election Commission (FEC); and National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP). Support and opposition data is obtained through testimony at public hearings, proprietary news databases and public statements on the websites of trade associations and other groups. To learn more visit MAPLight.org. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.

Media Contact

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Communications
Office: (510) 868-0894
pamela@maplight.org