New York Times

June 17, 2000 

To the Editor: 

While it's true that there are only about three dozen hotly contested House races (Week in Review, June 11), it's misleading to attribute this paucity of competitive seats to incumbents' fundraising prowess. 

Certainly name recognition and big war chests scare off challengers in party primaries. But for the general election, the simple fact is that partisan demographics -- not fundraising inequities -- determine the winner in most House races. 

Using highly sophisticated computers, incumbents and their proxies are capable of redrawing most legislative districts to be safe seats for their party. Donors give to candidates they know will win. This means that, even if campaign finance reformers are successful, it will have little effect on the lopsided outcome in most legislative races. 

STEVEN HILL San Francisco, 

The writer is western regional director of the Center for Voting and Democracy.