Transparency and Campaign Spending in Minnesota in 2020

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Transparency and Campaign Spending in Minnesota in 2020

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Money fuels politics, giving voice not only to candidates and their campaigns, but to outside groups and political parties—both during campaigns and lawmaking in Minnesota. Minnesota legislators are influenced by campaign spending. Money contributed during the 2018 campaign cycle influenced the 2019 legislative session in the Minnesota House. When the campaign season is over and the legislative session begins, outside groups, political parties, and individual donors press their interests and influence in the legislative process, particularly in committees. This study reports on indications of donor influence in 2019. An astounding $162.7 million was spent on elections in Minnesota during 2020. Of this, $105 million flowed into Minnesota’s campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Another nearly $41 million was spent on Minnesota elections for the State Senate and State House of Representatives. Additionally, individual Minnesota donors contributed $16.7 million to one of the two major party presidential candidates in 2020. The DFL had an advantage; overall spending to support DFL candidates was greater than overall spending to support GOP candidates, largely due to the DFL’s advantage in state legislative races and in the U.S. Senate race. Overall spending on Minnesota’s U.S. House races, however, benefitted Republican candidates.


The “Transparency and Minnesota Public Affairs” project improves awareness of how the state’s democratic process works. This is a project of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. We are grateful for the contributions of Madeline Salucka and Matthew Motta. The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report. Other parties who use or draw conclusions from this research are solely responsible for their own views, which do not necessarily reflect those of the original authors. This research is supported by a grant from the McKnight Foundation.

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Pearson, Kathryn; Jacobs, Lawrence R.. (2021). Transparency and Campaign Spending in Minnesota in 2020. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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