Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 5 > Issue 3

Is Private Campaign Finance a Good Thing? Estimates of the Potential Informational Benefits

Andrea Prat, Department of Economics and STICERD, London School of Economics, a.prat@lse.ac.uk Riccardo Puglisi, Dipartimento di Economia Pubblica and LdA, Università degli Studi di Pavia, riccardo.puglisi@gmail.com James M. Snyder Jr., Departments of Political Science and Economics and NBER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, millett@mit.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Andrea Prat, Riccardo Puglisi and James M. Snyder Jr. (2010), "Is Private Campaign Finance a Good Thing? Estimates of the Potential Informational Benefits", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 5: No. 3, pp 291-318. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008081

Published: 16 Dec 2010
© 2010 A. Prat, R. Puglisi and J. M. Snyder, Jr.
 
Subjects
Campaign finance,  Democracy
 

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In this article:
Data
Results
Discussion and Conclusions
Appendix 1: A Model of Voter Inference from Campaign Finance
References

Abstract

What would happen if the current U.S. campaign finance system, mostly based on private donations, were replaced by a public funding scheme of the same magnitude? Some argue that public funding would deprive voters of useful information, but this can only be true if private donations are somehow targeted to "better" candidates. In this paper, we ask what voters can learn about the "effectiveness" of a legislator from the amount and pattern of contributions received during the campaign. We find that the total amount that a candidate receives is a positive, but weak, predictor of that candidate's effectiveness. Small contributions provide a strong and positive signal of effectiveness, while large contributions are a negative signal of effectiveness. Contributions from organizations also provide a positive signal, while contributions from individuals, parties, and candidates themselves do not.

DOI:10.1561/100.00008081

Replication Data | 100.00008081_supp.zip (ZIP).

This file contains the data that is required to replicate the data on your own system.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00008081_supp

Online Appendix | 100.00008081_app.pdf

This is the article's accompanying appendix.

DOI: 10.1561/100.00008081_app