“One Man, One Dollar”? Examining the equalization argument in support of campaign contribution limits
AbstractArguably the most important campaign finance regulations in U.S. federal elections are limits imposed on the amount that an individual or organization may donate to a federal campaign. Such contribution limits are advocated on two separate grounds. The first is that they prevent corruption, the second is that they democratize the financing of campaigns by equalizing the relative influence of donors. According to the latter argument, an equalization of donor influence is desirable because it causes campaign resources to more accurately reflect public support for candidates and their political ideas. I construct a formal model to illustrate this equalization argument in support of contribution limits. The analysis calls attention to a number of implicit assumptions underlying the corresponding money primary analogy for campaign fund-raising. The central assumption is that a candidate’s reliance on large contributions is an indicator of negative characteristics not revealed through her campaign communication. The model also suggests a method for testing this assumption, as it implies a negative relationship between a candidate’s reliance on large contributions and her electoral success. Using data on elections to the House of Representatives between 1990 and 2002, I find no evidence that such a negative relationship exists. This empirical result casts doubt on the equalization argument in support of campaign contribution limits.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0512001.
Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 49
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://18.104.22.168
Elections; Campaign Contributions; Speech; Signaling; Campaign Advertising; Corruption; Inequality; Equality; First Amendment; Buckley;
Other versions of this item:
- Christoph Vanberg, 2005. ""One Man, One Dollar"? Examining the equalization argument in support of campaign contribution limits," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2005-31, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
- D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
- D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
- H - Public Economics
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-12-09 (All new papers)
- NEP-PBE-2005-12-09 (Public Economics)
- NEP-POL-2005-12-09 (Positive Political Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John E. Roemer, 2003.
"Political Equilibrium With Private or/and Public Campaign Finance: A Comparison Of Institutions,"
Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers
1409, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- John Roemer, 2003. "Political equilibrium with private or / and public campaign finance : A comparison of institutions," Working Papers hal-00242958, HAL.
- John E. Roemer, 2004. "Political Equilibrium with Private or/and Public Campaign Finance: A Comparison of Institutions," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm349, Yale School of Management.
- Potters, J.J.M. & Sloof, R. & Winden, F.A.A.M. van, 1997.
"Campaign Expenditures, Contributions and Direct Endorsements: The Strategic Use of Information and Money to Influence Voter Behavior,"
1997-27, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Potters, Jan & Sloof, Randolph & van Winden, Frans, 1997. "Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements: The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behavior," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-31, February.
- Potters, J.J.M. & Sloof, R. & Winden, F.A.A.M. van, 1997. "Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements. The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behaviour," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-73909, Tilburg University.
- Dharmapala, Dhammika & Palda, Filip, 2002.
" Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections,"
Springer, vol. 112(1-2), pages 81-114, July.
- Dhammika Dharmapala & Filip Palda, 2001. "Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections," Public Economics 0111007, EconWPA.
- Andrea Prat, 2002.
"Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017.
- Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996.
"The Swing Voter's Curse,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
- Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994.
"Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics,"
NBER Working Papers
4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Stephen Coate, 2004.
"Political Competition with Campaign Contributions and Informative Advertising,"
Journal of the European Economic Association,
MIT Press, vol. 2(5), pages 772-804, 09.
- Stephen Coate, 2001. "Political Competition with Campaign Contributions and Informative Advertising," NBER Working Papers 8693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
- Prat, A., 1998.
"Campaign Spending with Office-Seeking Politicians, Rational Voters and Multiple Lobbies,"
1998-123, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Prat, Andrea, 2002. "Campaign Spending with Office-Seeking Politicians, Rational Voters, and Multiple Lobbies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 162-189, March.
- David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.