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Some aspects of the political economy of election campaign contribution laws

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  • Peter Aranson
  • Melvin Hinich

Abstract

This essay constructs a very general model of an election campaign contributor's decision problem. This model permits one to assess the effects of three variables on the campaign contribution decision in two-candidate elections. These variables are: first, the level of the statutory contribution limit; second, the presence of a statute enforcing disclosure of the source and amount of each contribution; and third, the contributor's subjectively estimated probability that each of the two candidates wins. The findings from the model lead to the conclusions that statutory limits and disclosure work against the candidate whom the contributor believes to be trailing. Moreover, as the statutory contribution limit becomes smaller, the leading candidate's perceived electoral margin needed to receive all of the contributor's budget diminishes to zero. Hence, the Supreme Court majority's decision in Buckley v. Valeo, that the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act does not discriminate invidiously against challengers of incumbents, as well as minor party candidates, is brought into serious question. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers b.v. 1979

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Aranson & Melvin Hinich, 1979. "Some aspects of the political economy of election campaign contribution laws," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 435-461, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:34:y:1979:i:3:p:435-461
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00225679
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/BF00225679
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William Welch, 1974. "The economics of campaign funds," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 83-97, December.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:01:p:289-304_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Russell Pittman, 1977. "Market structure and campaign contributions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 37-52, September.
    4. Dennis Mueller & Robert Tollison & Thomas Willett, 1972. "Representative democracy via random selection," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 57-68, March.
    5. Burton Abrams & Russell Settle, 1976. "A modest proposal for election reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 37-53, December.
    6. Uri Ben-Zion & Zeev Eytan, 1974. "On money, votes, and policy in a democratic society," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 1-10, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Keith Poole & Thomas Romer, 1985. "Patterns of political action committee contributions to the 1980 campaigns for the United States House of Representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 63-111, January.
    2. Timothy Lambie-Hanson, 2013. "Campaign contributions as valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 3-24, October.
    3. Susan A. Edelman, 1992. "Two Politicians, A Pac, And How They Interact: Two Extensive Form Games," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 289-306, November.

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