The Michigan Campaign Finance Network has been following the money in Michigan politics for about two decades. For many years, the network published paper reports every two years on the money in previous election cycle. Today, the tracking happens primarily through our website, www.mcfn.org. Below are links to reports that provide information on money in Michigan elections since 2000.
The 2016 election saw voters elect Republican Donald Trump president and the most expensive state House races in Michigan history. The state House races cost about $27 million. Find out more by following the links below.
Candidates and independent committees raised and spent $134,610,000 in Michigan's 2014 election cycle. That total was up by 25.6 percent compared to the corresponding total from 2010, when constitutional executive offices and the Michigan Senate were last on the ballot. The 2014 total is $155,000 less than 2006, when the total for state offices was driven by Michigan’s most expensive gubernatorial campaign ever.
When fundraising for active 2014 ballot committees is included, the overall total for 2014 reaches $148.3 million. That is less than just 2012 ballot committees, which hit the extraordinary figure of $154.3 million.
The gubernatorial campaign was the second-most expensive ever at $63.5 million. Spend- ing for television advertising that was not reported through the State’s campaign finance reporting system reached $35.2 million.
Campaign finances for Michigan’s 2012 state elections were unprecedented. Committees that were involved in state elections raised more than $209 million, easily breaking the previous state record of $135 million from 2006. And while the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and members of the Michigan Senate were not on the ballot in 2012, they raised another $7 million in various committees under their control, but not including their leadership PACs.
The biggest story of the year was the ballot campaigns. Six questions appeared on the November ballot. Two other initiatives failed to make the ballot. The various committees supporting or opposing the ballot questions raised $154.3 million. The previous record for fundraising by ballot committees was $31 million in 2004.
The 2010 state political campaigns were not the most expensive in Michigan history. However, they did set a record as the least accountable campaigns ever for the major statewide offices. Of $61 million spent in the races for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and justice of the Supreme Court, $22.9 million was not disclosed in the State’s campaign finance reporting system.
That amount paid for candidate-focused television issue advertisements that the Michigan Department of State does not consider to be campaign expenditures. Records of that spending were collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network from the public files of the state’s television broadcasters and cable systems.
Plenty of campaign finance records were broken in 2008. On the national level President Barack Obama’s record-shattering campaign raised more than twice as much from individuals as the entire field of Republican candidates in 2008; more than the entire field of candidates from both parties in 2004; and, more than twice as much as the entire field of candidates from both parties in 2000.
In campaigns for state offices, more records were set. On a per seat basis, the 2008 Supreme Court campaign was the most expensive ever at $7.5 million. In aggregate, Michigan House races were the costliest they have ever been. Michigan had two U.S. House races in 2008 that nearly reached $9 million, just in spending by the candidate committees and reported independent expenditures.
In 2006, Michigan political campaigns were much more costly than ever before. Overall campaign costs were up by 60 percent compared to 2002, the last time the Michigan Senate and the elected State executive offices were on the ballot.
The 2006 gubernatorial race with Democratic Jennifer Granholm and Republican Dick DeVos was twice as expensive as 2002, the second consecutive gubernatorial campaign where campaign costs doubled. The gubernatorial campaign featured the fourth-highest case of self-funding in the history of American gubernatorial politics.
Michigan Senate candidates raised almost 40 percent more than in 2002. House candidates raised only 10 percent more than 2004, but House races generally have more money in presidential-election years because the state ballot is shorter and there is less competition for state political dollars.
A pair of highly contested ballot proposals, both dominated by deep - pocketed interest groups, was the top money story of the 2004 state election. The proponents and opponents of statewide Proposals 1 and 2 raised more than $30.2 million – more than all the candidates for state office.
The 2004 election for the Michigan House of Representatives followed familiar patterns in many respects. The candidate with greater financial backing won 92 percent of the time, and 70 of 72 incumbents won reelection. The parties and the caucus PACs weighed in with substantial financial support in the most heavily contested races. The major-party candidates had $15.7 million financing their campaigns in 2004. That is up by $3.6 million compared to 2002, and up by $1.4 million compared to 2000.
More than $76 million was raised by candidates or spent by their supporters for independent expenditures and issue advocacy in the 2002 Michigan state elec- tions. Almost half that amount was spent on the gubernatorial campaigns. Independent expenditures and issue ads accounted for almost one-third of overall spending and 80 percent of the total spent for the gubernatorial general election. Even though the Supreme Court race was not hotly contested, non-candidate spending was nearly half the total
Money is a critical factor in the outcome of elections. In the 2002 Michigan state elections, the candidate with the most financial support won 93 percent of the elections.
Michigan’s 2000 state elections included the most expensive campaigns in state history for the Supreme Court and House of Representatives. Spending by the parties and legislative caucus campaign committees in those campaigns was higher than ever before and undisclosed spending related to the Supreme Court campaigns reflected a new prominence for issue advertising.
Three seats on the Michigan Supreme Court were on the ballot in 2000. Average direct contributions to Supreme Court candidates increased by 83 percent. However, the parties’ independent expenditures and unreported issue advertising exceeded the candidates’ own campaign funds.