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Campaign Contributions and Political Polarization

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  • Tarhan, Simge

Abstract

Political candidates raise campaign funds from a variety of sources. Whether contributions from certain sources should be restricted has been the subject of debate in the U.S. since the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. I contribute to this debate by showing that the source of contributions affects the policy choice of candidates. When lobby contributions are limited, and candidates need to choose between costly fundraising activities or self-financing of the campaign, two types of candidates emerge: "rich" candidates with non-partisan positions and "poor" candidates choosing policies along party lines. An implication of the model is that restricting self-finance causes policy platforms to diverge under certain conditions. For instance, the Millionaires' Amendment in McCain-Feingold, which raised limits on contributions for candidates whose opponent is relying heavily on personal funds, could increase political polarization in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Tarhan, Simge, 2010. "Campaign Contributions and Political Polarization," MPRA Paper 29617, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Mar 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:29617
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/29617/1/MPRA_paper_29617.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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, March.
    2. Michael Ensley, 2009. "Individual campaign contributions and candidate ideology," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 221-238, January.
    3. Austen-Smith, David, 1998. "Allocating Access for Information and Contributions," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 277-303, October.
    4. Mueller, Dennis C & Stratmann, Thomas, 1994. "Informative and Persuasive Campaigning," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(1-2), pages 55-77, October.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Richard Holden, 2008. "Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002358, David K. Levine.
    6. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 831-842, August.
    7. Jonathan Silberman & Gilbert Yochum, 1980. "The market for special interest campaign funds: An exploratory approach," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 75-83, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Campaign finance; contribution limits; PACs; partisan voters; self-financing;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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