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

  • Dharmapala, Dhammika
  • Palda, Filip

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 finding appears to have significant implications for some of the empirical premises underlying the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Buckley v. Valeo decision. At the very least, it represents an important stylized fact about US elections that is robust over 1980-92 period. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 112 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (July)
Pages: 81-114

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:112:y:2002:i:1-2:p:81-114
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  1. Randall S. Kroszner & Thomas Stratmann, 1998. "Interest Group Competition and the Organization of Congress: Theory and Evidence from Financial Services' Political Action Committees," CRSP working papers 349, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  2. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  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. 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.
  5. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," NBER Working Papers 4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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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