01/14/20

How Much Does it Cost to Win a Seat in the Texas House?

In 2018 the average spent by politicians who won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives was $354,099. As with any average, it doesn’t tell the whole story. While some candidates won their seats on a shoestring budget, six House Representatives doled out well in excess of one million dollars during their campaign. Occupying the top spot in 2018 — and outspending the second highest person on the list by more than $700,000 — was Republican House Rep. Mayes Middleton (R, HD 23), who spent $2.3 million to win House District 23. 

In 2020, expect these campaign costs to skyrocket as Democrats and Republicans battle it out for control of the Texas House.

Why Will 2020 Be So Much More Expensive?

This year, the most fierce political struggle in Texas will be for the State House of Representatives. Although Democrats would love to seize Texas’ 38 electoral college votes in the presidential election, a more realistic possibility for 2020 is to take control of the Texas House. Democratic hopes were buoyed in 2018 when they wrested 12 House seats from Republicans. If they can hold their current ground and take nine more seats, Democrats will hold the majority when the House next convenes in January, 2021. 

The Crown Jewel of Redistricting

The party in control of the Texas House in 2021 will be in charge of redrawing the political districts across the state. And here’s the part that makes Texas House races so important on a national scale — those political districts impact not only the Texas House and Senate but also the Texas Congressional districts for the U.S. House. Currently, Texas sends 36 representatives to Congress. After this year’s census, Texas is expected to gain at least three more seats. The party in control of redistricting inevitably draws the lines on the map in their political favor. That’s a lot of power in Congress that could be drawn to favor one party or another. As Vicky Hausman, co-founder of Forward Majority, a Democratic organization that is targeting key Republican-led legislatures in the 2020 elections, put it, “The reality is Texas is the crown jewel of redistricting.” 

The Races to Watch

In 2018, 27 Texas House seats were won by fewer than ten percentage points. The average cost to win those seats was a whopping $416,968. Expect to see the money spent in these 27 races to increase the most. 

Tomorrow, on January 15, candidates and PACs are required to submit reports detailing their campaign contributions and spending from the second half of 2019. As soon as those numbers are available, we’ll be hard at work making them easy-to-search and easy-to-understand. Like to find out how much your representatives spent to win their seats? Search here, or see a list of candidates with their donations and spending here.

Join us and keep up with the latest news in the battle for political control in Texas.

Read More Case Studies