Campaign War Chests in Congressional Elections
This paper examines several hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the existence and growth of legislators' campaign "warchests". We examine the sources and political consequences of warchests in US House elections over the period of 1978-1998. Briefly, our findings are as follows. First, we find little evidence in support of the deterrence hypotheses. Second, short-term electoral forces-scandals, partisan tides, challenger quality-accounts for a large fraction of the explained variation in savings. Third, incumbents act as if they have finite, "target" levels of total savings. Fourth, some of the accumulated savings before 1992 appear to be for retirement. Finally, we find considerable evidence that many of the largest warchests are accumulated to help members run for higher office.
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