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Is private campaign finance a good thing?: estimates of the potential informational benefits

Prat, Andrea, Puglisi, Riccardo and Snyder, Jr., James M. (2010) Is private campaign finance a good thing?: estimates of the potential informational benefits. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 5 (3). pp. 291-318. ISSN 1554-0626

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Identification Number: 10.1561/100.00008081


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 A. Prat, R. Puglisi and J. M. Snyder, Jr.
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2011 15:20
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:07

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