A Closer Look: 2018 Texas Elections

Money drives politics, but it’s often hard to understand.

With contributions to candidates and PACs in the hundreds of millions, it’s easy for political insiders to throw around big numbers to intimidate citizens. Without context, all those commas and zeros are next-to-impossible to interpret meaningfully.

Most people don’t have time to dig into reports on a government website to find out if a certain representative or local newspaper is telling the truth. (But if you ever do want to comb through the data for yourself, here’s a great place to start.)

That’s why today, and for the next three weeks, we’re going to break down the money that flowed through the most recent Texas elections.

These are the raw numbers this election season:*

Contributions to Texas Candidates and PACs
Total $343,198,095.79
Total given to candidates $177,594,009.90
Total give to PACs $165,604,085.89
Total given in the Primary Election $153,455,073.75
Total given in the General Election $189,743,022.04
Total number of contributions 1,425,096


Expenditures by Texas Candidates and PACs
Total $449,490,781.87
Total spent by candidates $252,239,601.00
Total spent by PACs $197,251,180.87
Total number of expenditures 266,535

That’s A LOT of money. In fact, it’s a record amount of money spent in Texas in a year without a presidential election. But is it too much? Are elections “too expensive”? Who is giving all that money, and more importantly, what do they want?

Join us these next three weeks as we put the numbers and the players into context:

  1. Top Ten Donors
    We’ll introduce you to the ten most influential donors in Texas. Each one has given more than a million dollars to Texas candidates and PACs this election cycle alone — not including any donations made to federal candidates like Beto or Cruz.
  2. Top Ten PACs
    Who are these powerhouse PACs? We’ll tell you where the biggest PACs fall on the liberal to conservative spectrum and what they hope to gain from their political investments.
  3. Who’s Really Buying Texas?
    What story do the numbers tell? Is there too much money in politics? Who ultimately wields the most influence in the Lone Star State?

Join us as we make it easy for you to get the answers you need about the money in Texas politics.


*These numbers include all transactions from August, 20, 2017 (after the end of the Special Session) to October 27, 2018 (the end date for the most recent reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission).


Our Race to Raise series takes a deeper look at the most high-profile races of the election cycle, focusing specifically on money raised by those seeking to serve in public office. Stay tuned for the next installment, introducing the Top Ten Donors this Texas election cycle. Subscribe here if you want the breakdown to come straight to your inbox.


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