Faulty Assumptions

Issue Analysis 2: Legislator Occupations: Change or Status Quo After Clean Elections?

This CCP study examines the claim that taxpayer financing programs allow a greater number of “non-traditional” candidates to run for office and win, focusing on legislators in Maine and Arizona before and after their respective programs began.  The report finds no evidence that taxpayer financing in either state has had any impact on the number of legislators from “non-traditional” backgrounds.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Faulty Assumptions, Faulty Assumptions, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Arizona, Maine

Campaign War Chests and Challenger Quality in Senate Elections

This article examines whether or not Senate incumbents can use war chests to affect their odds of winning. The author uses data on races from 1980 to 2000 to demonstrate the effect of an incumbent Senator’s war chest on a campaign. For the purpose of this article, the author defined war chest as the cash on hand an incumbent has 22 months before the election. The author finds that, on average, about half of a Senate incumbent’s war chest comes from the cash the incumbent saved from the previous election. Thus, an incumbent’s war chest may be a partial result of what happened in the previous election campaign. Ultimately, the author concludes that war chests do not have a strong effect on the type of challenger in U.S. Senate elections. Similar to recent studies of war chests in the U.S. House, this work fails to uncover any systematic evidence that war chests in Senate elections deter general-election challengers. Consequently, reforms aimed at eliminating war chests will do little to increase electoral competitiveness. Implementing such a reform would not decrease competitiveness either, since incumbents are not raising war chests for tough election battles but merely carrying leftover money from one election campaign to the next.

Filed Under: Research, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

When Do War Chests Deter?

In this article, Jay Goodliffe presents a “repeated election model of campaign fund-raising and spending,” in which incumbents are allowed to form war chests with saved money from previous elections. Goodliffe explores when war chests are most important and what type of incumbent finds it prudent to create them. He finds that strong incumbents are the least likely to find it necessary to create a large war chest while medium-strength incumbents most often attempt to build a sizeable war chest. After his analysis, Goodliffe determines that it is not weak incumbents who build large war chests, but rather it is medium-strength incumbents, who are at least likely to defeat a challenger in a given election. This is an important departure from conventional wisdom regarding war chests and an interesting take on campaign finance savings.

Filed Under: Research, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

War Chests as Precautionary Savings

In this article, Jay Goodliffe provides a model of campaign spending and savings in consecutive elections that allows for statistical analysis of the reasons underlying the creation of war chests. Substantiated by significant empirical evidence, the model predicts that incumbents create war chests in preparation for future elections when faced with a weaker challenger. Given Goodliffe’s previous research into war chests, this article proves that war chests do not deter candidates from running in elections against incumbents. Instead, he argues that incumbents establish war chests after procuring savings from an uneventful election, in order to save for future election campaigns. Ultimately, Goodliffe concludes that, “campaign finance reforms that eliminate war chests may not encourage prospective challengers, but it may cause vulnerable incumbents to lose more often.” This is quite tangential to the typical perception of many in the campaign finance community and is likely a better and more nuanced explanation of the consequences of campaign war chests.

Filed Under: Research, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

Perceptions of Corruption and Campaign Finance: When Public Opinion Determines Constitutional Law

In this article, authors Nathaniel Persily and Kelli Lammie, test the empirical assumptions about American public opinion found in the Supreme Court’s opinions in campaign finance jurisprudence. The area of campaign finance is a unique one in First Amendment law because the Court has allowed the mere perception of a problem (in this case, corruption) […]

Filed Under: Contributions & Limits, Faulty Assumptions, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Money in Politics, Research, Buckley v. Valeo, Confidence in Government, First Amendment, Kelly Lammie, McConnell v. FEC, money in politics, Nathaniel Persily, Public Corruption, Public Opinion Polling, Supreme Court, Contribution Limits, Faulty Assumptions, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Contributions & Limits, Faulty Assumptions, Jurisprudence & Litigation

Public Opinion and Campaign Finance: Reformers Versus Reality

In this article, David Primo reviews the public opinion data and shows that the public has favored campaign finance reform, but it has been inconsistent in its preferences and has assigned it a low priority. He also shows that trust in government is not linked to campaign spending. This absence of connection contradicts arguments that Americans will trust government more if the amount spent on campaigns drops following reform.

Filed Under: Uncategorized, Faulty Assumptions, Faulty Assumptions

Government Financing of Campaigns: Public Choice and Public Values

In this policy briefing, John Samples argues against the notions that taxpayer financed campaigns would increase the integrity of elections and lawmaking, political equality, and electoral competitiveness. One of the popular arguments in support of government financed campaigns is that they will reduce the incidence of corruption. Samples opines that taxpayer financed campaigns are themselves corrupt, as public funds are used to serve private interests. He also rebukes the argument that the public favors the rhetorically-challenged message of “clean elections” and “reform.” Ultimately, Samples’ analysis demonstrates why the efforts of the “reformers” are likely to fail.

Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Faulty Assumptions, Faulty Assumptions, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns

The Effect of War Chests on Challenger Entry in U.S. House Elections

In this article, Jay Goodliffe challenges conventional wisdom on the effect of war chests in U.S. House elections. As many “reformers” suggest that war chests daunt challengers and effectively prevent them from choosing to enter a race against an incumbent, Goodliffe attempts to shed light on this misconception by proving that previous studies fail to take important variables into account when studying the effectiveness of war chests. Through this bivariate analysis, Goodliffe finds that “incumbent spending and incumbent wealth have negligible effects on electoral outcomes.” Contrary to the beliefs of “reformers,” Goodliffe explains that incumbents raise funds in preparation for a strong challenger and not to deter a strong challenger.

Filed Under: Research, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

Campaign Finance in U.S. House Primary and General Elections

This chapter first appeared in Congressional Primaries and the Politics of Representation, edited by Peter F. Galderisi, Michael Lyons, and Marni Ezra (Lanham, Md.:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), pp. 62-76. In this chapter, “Campaign Finance in U.S. House Primary and General Elections,” Jay Goodliffe and David B. Magleby examine how money and electoral competitiveness influence the results of U.S. House primary and general elections.

The authors question the usefulness of primaries in keeping incumbents accountable and creating competitive elections. According to the chapter, close primaries involving incumbents usually seem to result from a combination of two circumstances:  “(1) the incumbent appeared to be vulnerable; and (2) a challenger was able to provide significant funding for his or her own campaign.” They note that primaries add significant costs to a campaign and “create a general disincentive for candidates to run.” If anything, primary elections where an out-party candidate challenges the incumbent result in the reduced likeliness of out-party candidates, decreasing the incentive for incumbents to remain accountable.

Filed Under: Uncategorized, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions, Expenditure, Faulty Assumptions

The Hydraulics of Campaign Finance Reform

In this Texas Law Review article, authors Samuel Issacharoff and Pamela S. Karlan explain how campaign finance “reform” proposals often go awry. According to Issacharoff and Karlan, it doesn’t take an Einstein to discern a First Law of Political Thermodynamics – the desire for political power cannot be destroyed, but at most, channeled into different forms […]

Filed Under: Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Political Parties, Research, Buckley v. Valeo, Federal Election Campaign Act, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Political Parties