By Stephen Holzman

The caucus format my home district went with gives an advantage to candidates with a more passionate base of support at the expense of turnout. Many people are not a fan of making it harder to participate, myself included. There’s fierce jockeying as caucus events continue this week, and we just got new fundraising numbers:

Cockburn did well in the first set of caucuses on Saturday, and the numbers behind the top level summary supports the idea that her success is not just a fluke of the process. She’s leading the other candidates in recent unitemized small donations and in-state donations.

There is a hierarchy to campaign fundraising that signals campaign strength; a dollar donated is not the same as a dollar coming out of the candidate’s own pocket. Typically the order of preference for individual contributions is:

  1. Unitemized small contributions
  2. In-District itemized larger contributions
  3. In-State itemized larger contributions
  4. Out-of-State itemized larger contributions
  5. Self Contributions and Loans

Cockburn has contributed over $200,000 to her own campaign. OpenSecrets found only 12.5% of campaigns with over $500,000 of self-funding were successful in 2016. When her own contributions accounted for close to half of her own funding, democrats may have had a strong reason to be concerned about actual support and general election viability. That’s less of a concern after showing fundraising power and caucus support.

If those fundraising numbers and caucus results forecast a continued strong Cockburn showing, there seems to be 3 realistic paths:

  1. Cockburn wins outright with a majority of delegates
  2. Cockburn wins a plurality of delegates and wins on a later ballot at the convention
  3. Cockburn wins a plurality of delegates and some other candidate wins on a later ballot

In any scenario, fracturing is a concern for local democrats. Cockburn’s husband made ugly comments about Sneathern on Facebook after a progressive Charlottesville group made an endorsement of Sneathern. It was seemingly a rogue endorsement judging by the comments section.

These maneuvers and the infighting could hinder the eventual nominee in a race without much room for error. Though the boundaries changed, Tom Perriello famously won the 5th district in 2008 by only 727 votes.

Democrats are eager to unseat the incumbent Garrett given the August Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville. Caucus goers will be considering not just who the strongest candidate is on merit, but what path and tactics the party will choose to maximize buy-in. We’ll see how it turns out.

A few more charts below.

Stephen Holzman

Stephen Holzman
Data. Code. Art. Curious about the world and the people in it.

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