Vote YES for Question 3 on November 8

How Much Does it Cost to Run for Office in Portland?

Fair Elections Portland seeks to strengthen the voices of the people in Portland by reducing the influence of big money in local campaigns and ensuring that elected officials represent a true majority of voters.

STILL FIGHTING FOR: Question 3 for Clean Elections is on the ballot this November! Since 2019, we have fought to establish a Clean Elections system for school board, city council, and mayoral candidates, stemming the tide of big money’s influence and enabling candidates to spend more time talking to voters.

 

When the Data Adds Up:

For the last few months, our team has collected data to answer this question. Who’s giving money to candidates? How much money is being raised? What’s the cost of running a campaign? We’ve collected data covering a variety of races, from mayoral to school board to district council.

We’ve discovered a clear trend: more money is being poured into campaigns every election cycle. Money has been coming from in-state and out-of-state developers and local business owners, more so than the average Portlander. This is distressing for a couple of reasons.

Aside from corporate money pouring into our local politics, if election campaigns are costing more and more money, it weeds out regular folks from running for office, who don’t have the time to solicit large checks or hire campaign managers, lobbyists, and lawyers. Good government should represent the people who actually live here and not wealthy individuals.

So what’s the solution? As we compile more data, we know the answer to this growing problem is the one we’ve been fighting for all along: Clean Elections. And Portlanders can support Clean Elections by voting YES on Question 3 this November 8th!

The Data:

TIP: Use your mouse to hover over this bar graph to see exact numbers per each column.

Let's take a look at how the money is flowing in this chart. At first glance, it seems as if there isn't much difference between election years 2011 and 2019. However, the money spent per candidate and the top fundraiser amount increased every year. In fact, there was a 95% increase in the top fundraiser amounts between the years 2011 and 2019. And there was a 538.5% increase in money spent per candidate in that 10 year time span.

TIP: Use your mouse to hover over this bar graph to see exact numbers per each column.

Election cycles can vary year-to-year. The 2017 election saw a drastic increase in candidate fundraising and spending, while 2021 saw slightly less. If we look at the early 2010s (2010-2016), the top fundraiser amount never breaks $40K, while the later years (2017-2021) surpass the $40K mark, almost reaching $100K in 2017.

Between the years 2010-2016, the amount spent per candidate never surpasses $10K, while between 2017-2021, the average amount spent per candidate was $18,460.

TIP: Use your mouse to hover over this bar graph to see exact numbers per each column.

Once you put it into a line graph, the upward trend is clear.

District Council races experienced a major shift in 2015, with the total money raised surpassing $60K.

TIP: Use your mouse to hover over this bar graph to see exact numbers per each column.

District Council races experienced a major shift in 2015, with the total money raised surpassing $60K.

 

Learn More:

How Public Campaign Financing Empowers Small Donors Nationwide | Mounting evidence continues to show that public financing amplifies underrepresented voices and makes democracy work better for all Americans. | Brennan Center | Read more here

Opinion: City should let voters speak on publicly financed elections | Two years ago, over 8,000 Portland residents signed a petition in support of a charter amendment for the public funding of municipal elections. | Anna Kellar | Read more here

Legislative Candidate MCEA Participation Analysis | Report covers the 2018 and 2020 Legislative races in Maine. Through ups and downs in participation rates and changes in the design of Clean Elections, the program continues to serve as the national benchmark for full public funding of legislative elections. | Maine Citizens for Clean Elections | Read more here