NC House Campaign Finance Analysis

As we did with the NC Senate, the following is a comprehensive analysis of campaign finances for the North Carolina House. This early look at campaign finances offers us a good starting point from which to begin evaluating what will no doubt be very consequential mid-term elections. The central question for legislative races this year is whether or not Democrats will be able to make any gains toward breaking the GOP super-majority in one or both chambers. Since winning a majority in the 2010 election, Republicans in the NC House padded their numbers in this chamber to gain a super-majority, and have surpassed that critical threshold (of 72 seats out of 120) in subsequent elections. And as we noted in the NC Senate campaign finance analysis, while candidate fundraising is not the only financial factor to consider when judging Democratic or Republican prospects, it is a critical one which offers insight into the state of a race or individual campaign.
On January 26, individuals who had established campaign committees were required to file Year End Semi-Annual (YESA) campaign finance reports. These reports detail the fundraising, spending, and available cash on hand for a candidate's campaign. The following is an analysis of incumbent NC House members and announced House candidates who had established a campaign committee during the reporting period. Note, incumbent Representatives who have announced they will not seek another term in 2018 are not included in the data. A full table with all the available campaign finance data for Representatives and candidates can be found here.
Comprehensive Data
While the overall numbers are different and slightly lower than their counterparts in the Senate, the main themes from the aggregated data are consistent between the chambers. In total, House members and announced candidiates took in a total of over $3.3 million, very similar to Senators and announced Senate candidates during the same reporting period. And as with the Senate, Republicans reported raising a large majority of these funds, though the balance was not quite as lopsided in the House. Despite having more members and candidates reporting, the total cash on hand within the House added up to almost $4.5 million, about a half a million dollars less than the Senate. However, the Republican House members enjoy a large financial edge over Democrats, just as their GOP friends in the Senate did. Expenditures, which are not where the primary focus of a campaign is at this stage, exceeded the Senate total of just over $900,000, with a total of $1.4 million in the House. However, self-funding was not as pronounced in the House as it was in the Senate, with a total of over $400,000 being reported by House members and House candidates, where a handful of Senators and Senate candidates drove that number to nearly $850,000 in that chamber.

On average, incumbents and candidates raised $22,594.19 from all sources (including personal loans from a candidate to his or her campaign), spent an average of $9,538.93 , and reported an average of $30,296.92 in cash on hand at the end of 2017. These totals, particularly the average amount raised and average cash on hand are much lower than in the Senate. However, there are discrepancies between the two parties among these averages. As the table below details, Republican House members and candidates outpaced their Democratic colleagues in average amount raised, spent, and among resources in the bank.

Among the top fundraisers in the NC House and House candidates, there are some features that are similar to the Senate, as well as some differences. Like the Senate, the top fundraisers include leaders of the chamber and key committees in addition to caucus leadership from both parties. Unlike the Senate, where a few non-incumbent candidates broke into the top 10 (mostly thanks to personal loans to their campaigns), the NC House top fundraisers features only incumbents from both parties - though personal loans were also part of the story here as well. Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) topped the list puling in vastly more resources and reporting significantly more cash on hand than his colleagues. Impressively, the second-best fundraiser in the House during this period was Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), who is serving in just his first full term, after filling an unexpired term of his predecessor, former Rep. Brian Brown (R-Pitt). Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) as well as Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange) and Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) were significant fundraisers, which makes sense given their involvement with candidate recruitment and fundraising for their respective caucuses. The Democrat who pulled in the most campaign cash in the second half of 2017 was Rep. Duane Hall (D-Wake). His totals were built largely upon a $100,000 personal loan to his campaign. While he is running again for re-election to the NC House, he has expressed interest in running for Lt. Governor in 2020, which will be an open seat contest. Rep. Ken Goodman (R-Richmond), leader of the business-oriented Main Street Democrats Caucus, and Rep. John Fraley (R-Iredell), a raising leader in the House GOP caucus, also loaned their campaign large sums which helped earn them a spot among the top 10 fundraisers.
Top Fundraisers
As you would expect - and just as in the Senate - the individuals with the most campaign cash on hand at the beginning of the election year largely align with the best fundraisers highlighted here. However, there are some differences. House Appropriations leaders Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) and Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) have healthy bank accounts and a lone non-incumbent, Rick Foulke (D-Union) running in NC House District 68, cracks the top 10 list thanks to a large personal loan that was disclosed in a previous report, but still buoyed his bottom line.
Most Cash on Hand

In our companion Senate analysis, there was enough campaign finance data to take an early peak at some notable primaries that have already gotten underway. While we expect many consequential and competitive primaries on the House side, these races have been slower to engage and accordingly, don't have sufficient campaign finance data to offer a useful evaluation at this point. However, it bears repeating that these campaign finance numbers, including the aggregated totals, are important for a few reasons. One, it shows that the Republican leadership in both chambers appear to be aggressively fundraising and finding success. Another is that while Senate Republican leaders are not likely to need all of those resources for their own campaigns, the real value in those dollars is primarily so they can be contributed to the state party, or the caucuses' affiliated party committee, to be used to aid the campaigns of Republican incumbents or other Republicans candidates in competitive races. Republicans amassing cumulatively more than their Democratic counterparts is, therefore, notable. However, this is again only a partial campaign finance picture. Not only will outside groups further exacerbate lopsided financial advantages - or mitigate them - but fundraising strategies can differ between the two major parties. Legislative leaders may be shouldering more of the fundraising burden in the Republican party, while Gov. Roy Cooper (D) may be doing much of the heavy financial lifting for the Democrats. Gov. Cooper has partnered with the NC Democratic Party for a "Break the Majority" initiative, which is largely designed to raise campaign resources toward their goal of breaking the GOP super-majority in one or both chambers. It's worth noting that since Democrats would need to pick up just four seats in the NC House to break the super-majority in that chamber, versus six to break it in the Senate, more of these party funds may be more likely to flow to the House. This could help even the campaign finance scales. At a minimum, it bears watching as the campaign progresses. To see the complete campaign finance data table for announced NC House candidates who had a campaign committee during this reporting period, click here.