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

  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    (Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra)

  • Filip Palda

    (Ecole nationale d'administration publique in Montreal)

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 may have significant implications for some of the empirical premises underlying the US Supreme Court's landmark {\em Buckley v. Valeo} decision. At very least the finding is an important stylized fact about US elections which is robust over the 1980's and early 1990's.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0111007.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 10 Nov 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0111007
Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP/PostScript; pages: 37; figures: included. PDF file can be viewed or printed.
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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. 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.
  3. Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," NBER Working Papers 4877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  5. 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.
  6. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
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