Monday, May 08, 2006

Hometown Advantage

There was a strange article in Yesterday's Globe comparing the amount of money that Attorney General Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick have raised from their hometowns (second item). According to campaign finance records, Patrick has raised more money from his town of Milton than Reilly has from here in Watertown. Here's what the article had to say:

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly continues to maintain his big fund-raising lead over Deval Patrick in the three-way Democratic race for governor, but in their hometowns, at least, Patrick has been much more successful in attracting checks from friends and neighbors. In a 16-month period, Patrick raised $113,200 from residents of Milton, while Reilly, over more than three years, has taken in $56,170 from the folks in Watertown, which is more populous but less affluent than Milton.
If you know anything about Watertown or Milton, this should not be surprising. It's also largely meaningless because the two towns are so different. Watertown is indeed "less affluent" than Milton, and the median household income here is about $19,000 less a year than there ($78,985 for Milton, $59,764 for Watertown). Watertown also has a greater percentage of people living below the poverty line than does Milton. It may just be that the people of Milton have more money to spend on political campaigns than do the people of Watertown.

To control for these factors, we can look at net dollars raised -- that is, the amount of money a town has given to their hometown candidate minus the amount they gave to the opposition. OCPF statistics indicate that over the past sixteen months, Milton donors have given $47,685 to Reilly, giving Patrick a net gain over Reilly of $87,138 in Milton. Watertown donors have given $18,129.50 to Patrick, giving Reilly a net gain of $38,040.50. Using this measure, you can see that both candidates have done better than their opponents in their hometowns, though Patrick still maintains over a 2-to-1 margin. Still, I think this is exaggerated given the difference between Milton and Watertown. If we take the shares over the past 16 months (so we're comparing identical timeframes for each town) we find that Deval Patrick has roughly 70% of the the money raised by the two candidates in Milton, while Tom Reilly has just under 64% of the money from Watertown if you count the $31,870 he's raised since December 2004. Patrick is still in the lead using these measures, but it's a more modest lead than the Globe article indicates.