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Exclusive: StudentsFirst 14-State 2012 Candidate Spending

Screen shot 2013-07-01 at 1.35.12 PMA few months ago it was being noted that StudentsFirst's candidate endorsements skewed overwhelmingly Republican, which was surprising to some and disqualifying to others.  

But no one seemed to know about its candidate contributions, which are an even more powerful indication of the organization's focus (and the state of education reform).

Now, thanks to a source inside StudentsFirst, I can share some interesting (if self-reported) information about the organization's 2012 election cycle contributions, which balance out pretty evenly for 2012 at 42 percent Democratic / 58 percent Republican.  

Click below to see the documents and some preliminary observations.

Note that the amounts listed don't include comparison figures for labor or other spending, which are an important part of the picture that is all too often left out.  

One factor that might warrant further investigation is the overlap (or lack thereof) between SF and DFER endorsements and contributions, to the extent that they're operating in the same places.

It's also worth noting that 8 of the 14 states where SF was active in 2012 were strongly Republican, some of them smaller states where dollars go further.

And, though doing so would have helped its Democratic credentials, SF would have been stupid to throw its money around indiscriminately in larger, Democratically-controlled states like California where the dollars being spent are so large.

Note that the accounting doesn't include school board races or issue advocacy and ballot measures, and of course doesn't go into 2013.   (In 2013, StudentsFirst has been supportive in Dem. races from L.A. and West Sacramento (Washington Unified) school boards to a mayoral race in Harrisburg, PA. (Dem primary).

6.27.2013 Win Rate and Candidate-Party Spending 

Previous posts: Mismatched Donors, Endorsements, and Contributions?StudentsFirst Continues To Expand Despite Controversy; Eighty Candidates Endorsed By StudentsFirstReviewing StudentsFirst's Union Positions.


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I'd say the partisan spending is in some sense "balanced", but also that that illustrates the implausibility of SF's agenda. It's just not believable that "domestic K-12 education reform" is actually one of the central political issues of our time, or should be a primary determinant of how we decide to vote.

Most people will look at a roughly even partisan spending split and conclude that Students First's agenda must be either too-narrow or incoherent.

And they'd be mostly right. If you expand your agenda to a more plausible scope, you'll get a more consistently partisan outcome. If what you really care about is "the welfare of disadvantaged children", you probably end up leaning heavily Democratic. If your priority is "breaking up government monopolies", you'll probably end up leaning heavily Republican. Etc.

But if your political giving looks like it's roughly determined by coin toss, that should be a red flag about the criteria you're using.

Thanks to Chris Gian for compiling this report.

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