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"One Man, One Dollar"? Campaign contribution limits, equal influence, and political communication

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  • Vanberg, Christoph

Abstract

Arguably the most important campaign finance regulations in U.S. federal elections are limits imposed on individual campaign contributions. One of the principal arguments in support of these contribution limits has been that they equalize the influence of individual donors and thereby cause candidates' aggregate financial resources to more accurately reflect public support. I construct a formal model to evaluate this argument. The analysis shows that a necessary condition for it to apply is that a candidate's reliance on large contributions is negatively related to voter-preferred characteristics which cannot be credibly revealed through campaign advertisements. Using data on elections to the House of Representatives between 1992 and 2000, I find no evidence that such a relationship exists. This result casts doubt on the equalization argument in support of campaign contribution limits.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:3-4:p:514-531
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    Cited by:

    1. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2018. "The Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Working Papers Series 68, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
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    3. Fergusson, Leopoldo, 2014. "Media markets, special interests, and voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 13-26.
    4. Yasmine Bekkouche & Julia Cage, 2019. "The Heterogeneous Price of a Vote: Evidence from France, 1993-2014," Sciences Po publications 2019-09, Sciences Po.
    5. Hans Gersbach, 2014. "Campaigns, political mobility, and communication," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(1), pages 31-49, October.

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