The Effects of Campaign Finance Laws on Turnout, 1950-2000

Scholars have proposed many routes by which campaign finance laws may impact turnout. For instance, laws restricting campaign spending may decrease mobilization, resulting in lower turnout. Alternatively, such laws might increase the competitiveness of elections, resulting in higher turnout. Existing studies tend to focus on only one causal pathway, ignoring the net effects of campaign finance reforms on voter turnout. In this paper, CCP Academic Advisors David Primo and Jeff Milyo exploit the variation in state campaign finance laws from 1950 to 2000 in order to estimate the reduced-form relationships between reform and turnout. Using both aggregate and individual-level data, they find that campaign finance laws on net have little impact on turnout in gubernatorial elections.

You can read the full study here.