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The Vicious Cycle: Fundraising and Perceived Viability in Us Presidential Primaries


Cameron A Shelton


Claremont Colleges - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

James J Feigenbaum


NERA Economic Consulting

April 17, 2009

Robert Day School of Economics and Finance Research Paper No. 2009-08

Abstract:     
Since at least Aldrich (1980a), a dynamic positive feedback loop between fundraising and electoral success has been hypothesized. Existing work on both directions of this feedback remains inconclusive and is often explicitly cross-sectional, ignoring the dynamic aspect of the hypothesis. Pairing high frequency FEC data on contributions and expenditures with Iowa Electronic Markets data on perceived probability of victory, we examine the bidirectional feedback between contributions and viability in a series of analyses. We find positive feedback in both directions during a successful insurgent-candidates’ breakout from obscurity. This suggests the existence of multiple steady states. The implications for the efficiency of the primary process, and hence the system of public choice, are stark: if positive feedback exists, then high quality candidates might languish in obscurity while lesser, initially prominent candidates remain better known and better funded.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: Campaign finance, presidential primaries, Iowa Electronic Markets, positive feedback loop

JEL Classification: P16, H0, Z0

working papers series


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Date posted: May 7, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Shelton, Cameron A and Feigenbaum, James J, The Vicious Cycle: Fundraising and Perceived Viability in Us Presidential Primaries (April 17, 2009). Robert Day School of Economics and Finance Research Paper No. 2009-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1400864 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1400864

Contact Information

Cameron A Shelton
Claremont Colleges - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )
500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States

James J Feigenbaum (Contact Author)
NERA Economic Consulting ( email )
50 Main Street, 14th Floor
White Plains, NY 10606
United States
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