How Much Will the Special Election Cost Candidates?

L.A. mayoral, California House races soak up money and attention in special election

This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Downtown Los Angeles • The primary election for mayor goes Wednesday and the California House race on the same day. Both are expected to be competitive, leaving the same sort of money-on-the-table implications on Tuesday’s ballot.

As in other special elections, voter turnout can be a leading indicator of how much voters are interested in the campaigns. But turnout alone cannot tell you what kind of campaign each candidate will run.

In San Jose’s 2000 presidential primary, President Bush outperformed Bill Clinton by a margin of 2 percent of the total votes cast despite the fact that turnout was only 10 percent. In 1996, former Republican senator Bob Dole had a far smaller margin of a mere 3.4 percent of the votes cast, but did far better with turnout (10.1 percent versus 8.2 percent).

What we do know is that voter turnout last year for the gubernatorial primary was 19.4 percent versus 22.7 percent for the mayoral primary. In the Senate special election on the same day, turnout last year was 19.4 percent versus 30.5 percent.

In the mayoral election, turnout is expected to be even higher than in the last gubernatorial primary because the race is expected to be close nationally, and it’s expected to have a high profile nationally on the day of the special election.

What we don’t know is how much the two elections will cost candidates and how much that will translate into dollars spent on television ads.

In other words, it’s likely candidates will spend more to run in the special election, but how much is unknown.

That raises the question: how big of a jump are the special election funds?

In the Democratic-controlled state Senate campaign in San Jose, candidate Sal Ros

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