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  • Press Release

Party Financial Activity Summarized for 2004 Election Cycle

March 2, 2005

News Releases, Media Advisories

FEC Home Page

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2005

Corrected March 14, 2005


Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff George Smaragdis


WASHINGTON – Federal committees of the two major parties raised nearly $1.5 billion and spent $1.41 billion between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2004, according to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) compilation of information from reports submitted by party committees at the national, state, and local levels. 

  Republican national, state, and local committees who report to the FEC raised $784.8 million during 2003-2004 in federally permissible “hard money.” Democratic committees raised $683.8 million.  Democratic party receipts were more than 89% higher than in the comparable period during the 2000 presidential campaign, while Republican party fundraising grew by 46% when compared with the same period.  Overall, these hard money totals for both parties’ national committees were greater than their combined hard and soft money raised in any prior campaign.

  The 2004 election cycle is the first in which national parties have been prohibited from receiving “soft money” as a result of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).  While the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) raised substantially more this cycle than before, even counting soft money, both parties’ Senatorial and Congressional committees raised less in 2004 than they had in previous cycles.  The following table shows “hard money” fundraising compared with both hard and soft money receipts in previous cycles.

National Party Fundraising

Federal Only






























































(Millions of Dollars)

Spending directly in support of federal candidates has also increased substantially in 2004.  Democratic party committees reported a total of $176.5 million in independent expenditures, which advocate the election of specific candidates but are not coordinated with campaigns.  Of this amount, the DNC alone reported independent expenditures of $120.3 million on presidential candidates. In addition, Democratic committees spent a total of $33.1 million in coordinated expenditures on behalf of general election candidates.  Unlike independent expenditures, the law imposes limits on this spending for each candidate.  Republican party committees reported $88 million in independent expenditures and $32.4 million in coordinated expenditures. Spending on these activities had declined during the period when soft money activity was increasing for the parties. In addition, while the RNC reported making $18.3 million in independent expenditures, they also reported $45.8 million in “generic media expenses,” ads in which they shared the costs with Bush-Cheney ’04.  The DNC spent an additional $24 million during the general election period for media production and consulting not included in the independent expenditure totals.

Sources of receipts for national party committees are examined in more detail in tables attached to this release.  These tables show that all national committees substantially increased their contributions from individuals and also the financial support they received from federal candidates.  Particularly noteworthy were the large transfers the DNC and RNC received from their Presidential nominees during the final weeks of the campaign, along with the number and size of transfers from members of Congress to their respective party campaign committees.  These are listed in separate tables for each party recipient.

  The breakdown of individual contributions by size shows that while proceeds from small unitemized contributions grew considerably for each committee, they made up a smaller proportion of all federal contributions than in earlier cycles.  Contributions of the maximum amount, on the other hand, made up a greater proportion of these hard money contributions than previously for each national committee. This limit was changed in BCRA from $20,000 per year to $25,000 per year for each individual. Note, however, that in previous cycles national committees also received unlimited nonfederal donations in amounts generally greater than the $20,000 hard money limit.

BCRA also limited the role of soft money in the financing of state and local party activity in the 2004 cycle. This release includes tables listing state committees of the two major parties, along with their federal (hard money) spending and the soft money share of any allocated spending for the past three election cycles.  The tables show overall increases in hard money spending offset by greater declines in soft money allocated spending by these committees in 2004.

 Tables in this release also provide financial overviews for national and state/local committees of the two major parties.  Transfers from national to state parties are listed by state.  Finally, direct party involvement in congressional campaigns is tallied for each candidate in the general election.


Democratic Party Committee Financial Activity Through December 31, 2004   [EXCEL] [PDF]

Republican Party Committee Financial Activity Through December 31, 2004   [EXCEL] [PDF]

Sources of Receipts - DNC and RNC [EXCEL] [PDF]

Sources of Receipts - Senatorial Campaign Committees [EXCEL] [PDF]

Sources of Receipts - Congressional Campaign Committees [EXCEL] [PDF]

National Party Transfers to States  [EXCEL] [PDF]

Campaign Transfers to DNC and RNC [EXCEL] [PDF]

Campaign Transfers to the DSCC [EXCEL] [PDF]

Campaign Transfers to the NRSC [EXCEL] [PDF]

Campaign Transfers to the DCCC [EXCEL] [PDF]

Campaign Transfers to the NRCC [EXCEL] [PDF]

State Democratic Committee Spending [EXCEL] [PDF]

State Republican Committee Spending [EXCEL] [PDF]

Party Support of Candidates Summary [EXCEL] [PDF]

Party Activity in Senate Campaigns [EXCEL] [PDF]

Party Activity in House Campaigns [EXCEL] [PDF]