Campaign Fundraising in State Supreme Court Elections

Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 88, pp. 68-85, March 2007

34 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007

See all articles by Chris W. Bonneau

Chris W. Bonneau

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science


Objective: What factors affect the ability of candidates for state supreme courts to raise money? In this article, I test (and expand) existing theories of political fundraising (taken largely from legislative studies) in the context of judicial elections.

Methods: I examine the determinants of campaign contributions to all candidates running for the state supreme court from 1990-2000 in states that have competitive judicial elections. Most basically, I hypothesize that a candidate's ability to raise money is dependent upon characteristics of the candidate, the state electoral and supreme court context, and institutional arrangements.

Results: The results suggest that candidates who have a greater probability of success than their opponents are better able to raise money. Yet, all is not within the control of the candidates as the electoral context of the state and the court as well as the institutional arrangements of the election and the court are also relevant.

Conclusions: Campaign fundraising by state supreme court candidates, much like fundraising my legislative candidates, can be understood in systematic and predictable ways. Candidates have some control over the amount of money that they are able to raise (and thus their electoral viability), although there is little they can do about the electoral and supreme court context. Additionally, institutional arrangements play a large role in the raising of campaign funds, suggesting there is much reformers can do to limit the amounts of money involved in elections short of eradicating elections altogether.

Suggested Citation

Bonneau, Chris W., Campaign Fundraising in State Supreme Court Elections. Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 88, pp. 68-85, March 2007. Available at SSRN:

Chris W. Bonneau (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science ( email )

4600 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics