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Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections

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  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    (Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra)

  • Filip Palda

    (Ecole nationale d'administration publique in Montreal)

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of the sources of candidates' campaign funding on their electoral outcomes, with particular emphasis on whether candidates who rely on a narrow base of funding suffer adverse electoral consequences. An extensive dataset consisting of over 650,000 contributions to House candidates in elections from 1980 to 1992 is used. The results reveal a negative relationship between the concentration of contributions and voteshare for open seat candidates and challengers. This may have significant implications for some of the empirical premises underlying the US Supreme Court's landmark {\em Buckley v. Valeo} decision. At very least the finding is an important stylized fact about US elections which is robust over the 1980's and early 1990's.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0111007.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 10 Nov 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0111007

Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP/PostScript; pages: 37; figures: included. PDF file can be viewed or printed.
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: Campaign finance; contribution limits; spending limits; free speech; Buckley v. Valeo; Herfindahl index;

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  1. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  2. Randall S. Kroszner & Thomas Stratmann, . "Interest Group Competition and the Organization of Congress: Theory and Evidence from Financial Services', Political Action Committees," CRSP working papers 465, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  3. McKelvey, Richard D. & Ordeshook, Peter C., 1985. "Elections with limited information: A fulfilled expectations model using contemporaneous poll and endorsement data as information sources," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 55-85, June.
  4. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  5. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  6. Dharmapala, Dhammika, 1999. "Comparing tax expenditures and direct subsidies: the role of legislative committee structure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 421-454, June.
  7. Jeffrey Milyo, 1998. "The Electoral Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections: A Natural Experiment Approach," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9806, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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Cited by:
  1. Christoph Vanberg, 2005. "“One Man, One Dollar”? Examining the equalization argument in support of campaign contribution limits," Public Economics 0512001, EconWPA.
  2. Fergusson, Leopoldo, 2014. "Media markets, special interests, and voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 13-26.
  3. Vanberg, Christoph, 2008. ""One Man, One Dollar"? Campaign contribution limits, equal influence, and political communication," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 514-531, April.
  4. Keith Jakee & Guang-Zhen Sun, 2006. "Is compulsory voting more democratic?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 61-75, October.

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