Maine had the third highest percentage of out-of-state campaign contributions during the 2022 election cycle at 67.82 percent, according to a recent report from the campaign finance transparency group OpenSecrets.
OpenSecrets is a non-profit organization that specializes in the tracking and analysis of campaign finance data.
Out-of-state campaign contributions to federal races have become increasingly common nationwide over the last two decades, due in large part to the ever increasing cost of running for federal office.
OpenSecrets reported that in 2000, the average winner of U.S. Senate races spent $7.3 million. Today, the same campaign costs $26.5 million, more than three and a half times more. Similarly, the bottom line for victorious U.S. House candidates has increased from $840,300 in 2000 to $2.8 million in 2022.
In the years since 1998, candidates have relied more and more on out-of-state funding to foot the bill.
Candidates in smaller states like Maine, however, were found to rely most heavily on out-of-state donors. In most cases, more than 90% of campaign contributions come from beyond the state’s borders.
Research from OpenSecrets revealed that both former House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Portland) and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) were among the candidates who had the highest percentage of out-of-state donations from 2018 through 2022 with 6.36 percent and 6.86 percent, respectively, coming from in-state donors.
The report suggests that this may have been the case on account of the fact that there were “potential national consequences for their races.”
OpenSecrets suggests that out-of-state donations have risen so dramatically over the past twenty-plus years not only because online donations have become more commonplace, but also because politics have become increasingly nationalized overall. The report cites Collins’ race illustrate this point:
In this context, “more nationalized” means that donors in New York are more aware of races outside of their own districts and see those races as important even though the candidates will not represent them. This helps explain why in the election after Collins voted to confirm Brett Kavanagh to the Supreme Court, out-of-state donors flooded her opponent’s campaign with funds to a degree not seen in Maine in previous elections.
In terms of the states with the highest percentage of out-of-state contributions, Maine sits at the top of the list, just below Wyoming and West Virginia, and just ahead of Vermont and Rhode Island.
Check out the interactive map from OpenSecrets below to see more about how Maine stacks up against the rest of the country: