Selling Favors in the Lab: Experiments on Campaign Finance Reform
Substantial academic interest and public policy debate centers on campaign finance reform. Campaign resources can provide benefits to constituencies if candidates use them to fund the distribution of useful information. On the other hand, voters can potentially be harmed if candidates trade policy favors to special interests in exchange for contributions. Unfortunately, because informative field data on this topic are very difficult to obtain, the effects of different campaign finance strategies on election outcomes and economic welfare remain largely uninformed by empirical analyses. This paper reports data from novel laboratory experiments designed to shed light on the campaign finance debate. Our experiment is based on a model where power-hungry candidates are motivated to trade favors for campaign contributions. Our data is consistent with the model’s predictions. We find that voters’ revise their beliefs in response to candidate advertising in a way that is consistent with theory. Moreover, in relation to privately financed electoral competitions, in publicly financed campaigns (i) high-quality candidates are elected more frequently, and (ii) margins of victory are larger. Both of these outcomes are predicted by theory. We conduct policy experiments on various campaign finance strategies, including the widely suggested caps on private fundraising. Our results suggest that caps can improve voter welfare but do not increase the likelihood that high-quality candidates will be elected.
|Date of creation:||2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich|
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page: http://www.cesifo-group.de
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- Thomas Stratmann, 2006. "Contribution limits and the effectiveness of campaign spending," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 129(3), pages 461-474, December.
- Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994.
"Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics,"
NBER Working Papers
4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
- Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992.
"Protection for Sale,"
162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 21-92, Tel Aviv.
- Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1992. "Protection For Sale," NBER Working Papers 4149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Prat, Andrea, 1999.
"Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
2152, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Potters, J.J.M. & Sloof, R. & van Winden, F.A.A.M., 1997.
"Campaign expenditures, contributions and direct endorsements. The strategic use of information and money to influence voter behaviour,"
Other publications TiSEM
347b9f99-149a-4ab3-966f-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
- 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. & van Winden, F.A.A.M., 1997. "Campaign Expenditures, Contributions and Direct Endorsements : The Strategic Use of Information and Money to Influence Voter Behavior," Discussion Paper 1997-27, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Christian Schultz, 2003.
"Strategic Campaigns and Redistributive Politics,"
EPRU Working Paper Series
03-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
- Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
- Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2002.
"Behavior in a dynamic decision problem: An analysis of experimental evidence using a bayesian type classification algorithm,"
- Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2004. "Behavior in a Dynamic Decision Problem: An Analysis of Experimental Evidence Using a Bayesian Type Classification Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 781-822, 05.
- Stratmann, Thomas, 2002. "Can Special Interests Buy Congressional Votes? Evidence from Financial Services Legislation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 345-373, October.
- Stratmann, Thomas, 1998. "The Market for Congressional Votes: Is Timing of Contributions Everything?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 85-113, April.
- 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.
- Prat, A., 1998. "Campaign Spending with Office-Seeking Politicians, Rational Voters and Multiple Lobbies," Discussion Paper 1998-123, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Wittman, Donald, 2007.
"Candidate quality, pressure group endorsements and the nature of political advertising,"
European Journal of Political Economy,
Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 360-378, June.
- Wittman, Donald, 2005. "Candidate Quality, Pressure Group Endorsements, And The Nature Of Political Advertising," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2tw043ff, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-798, August.
- Rebecca Morton & Charles Cameron, 1992. "Elections And The Theory Of Campaign Contributions: A Survey And Critical Analysis," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 79-108, 03.
- David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
- Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1727. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.