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The Economics of Election Campaign Spending Limits

  • Filip Palda

    (Ecole nationale d'administration publique at Montreal)

Spending limits are an important rule in the electoral game. Critics of limits claim that incumbents write these rules to keep down promising challengers. Their arguments are seductive but do not stand on a firm empirical base. The data seem quite eager to support or reject the critics' view, given the proper massaging. This paper suggests that if incumbents profit from spending limits, they will take their profit in a way that leaves no trace in the data. Profit does not come in the form of higher votes for the incumbent, but as richer government spoils for their close supporters. This explanation goes against the traditional view of how limits help incumbents. The explanation also helps to explain why there may never be a winner in the empirical debate on whether incumbents or challengers profit from limits.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/pe/papers/0111/0111011.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 0111011.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 14 Nov 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0111011
Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on HP/PostScript; pages: 30; figures: included. PDF file may be viewed or printed
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
  2. Bender, Bruce, 1988. "An Analysis of Congressional Voting on Legislation Limiting Congressional Campaign Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1005-21, October.
  3. Mueller, Dennis C & Stratmann, Thomas, 1994. " Informative and Persuasive Campaigning," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(1-2), pages 55-77, October.
  4. K. Palda & Kristian Palda, 1985. "Ceilings on campaign spending: Hypothesis and partial test with Canadian data," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 313-331, January.
  5. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  6. 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.
  7. Palda, Filip, 1993. " Can Repressive Regimes Be Moderated through Foreign Aid?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 535-50, November.
  8. Dan Usher & Merwan Engineer, 1986. "The Distribution of Income in a Despotic Society," Working Papers 653, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
  10. Roger Congleton, 1989. "Campaign finances and political platforms: The economics of political controversy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 62(2), pages 101-118, August.
  11. D. Usher & M. Engineer, 1987. "The distribution of income in a despotic society," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(3), pages 261-276, August.
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