Report: Low-Dollar Contributors In 2013 City Council Races Nearly Doubled

Forgive us for going all Publicola for a moment, but with the release of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission’s report on the 2013 election yesterday, a few interesting things about who contributed financially - and how much they gave - caught our eye.

When it comes to the various City Council races, 2013 was the first time in ten years that “the number of low-dollar contributors exceeded the number of high-dollar contributors,” according to the report. “While the total number of contributors to council candidates increased slightly from 2011, the number of contributors making contributions of under $100 almost doubled,” the report notes. “Contributors in the mid-range ($100-$599) were down by 33% since the 2011 election cycle. Contributors at the high-range (over $600) were down 43%.”

We’ll call this the Sawant and O’Brien effect. When it comes to Sawant, the Socialist Alternative candidate had 1485 individual or and group donors, giving an average of $92.72. O’Brien, meanwhile, had 1,881 individual and group donors, giving an average of $75.65.

The report continues: “The average value of contributions to City Council campaigns dropped from $231 in 2011 to just $136 in 2013, a 40% drop.”

Conveniently, there’s a nifty chart in the report to illustrate this point:

Also of interest, the total monetary contributions to last year’s Council races was down by almost half compared to 2011. In 2011, $1,762,817 was contributed, while 2013 so a total of only $935,227 contributed.

There’s a chart for that one too:

The report also delves into the mayor’s race, noting that - with six candidates raising over $200,000 - it was the most expensive race “in years,” and also rare in that it garnered more contributors than all the City Council races combined, the first time that’s happened since 2001. Low-dollar contributors also impacted this race, with the report finding that “For the second cycle in a row, low-dollar contributions (under $100) made up a third of all contributions raised in the Mayoral race. Prior to 2009, half of all contributions to the Mayor’s race were at the under $100 level. However, the report also points out that the “average contribution remained virtually constant, dipping slightly from $237 in 2009 to $235 in 2013.”

Another interesting tidbit about the mayor’s race, according to the report: the money raised in contributions of more than $600 exceeded $1 million for the first time ever.

Finally (at least for this post; the entire report is available online here), an interesting graph about where financial contributors work. Spoiler: It’s largely in City, County and Federal government, not to mention Microsoft, Vulcan and Boeing.

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