Campaign Spending, Diminishing Marginal Returns, and Campaign Finance Restrictions in Judicial Elections

38 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2010

See all articles by Chris W. Bonneau

Chris W. Bonneau

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science

Damon M. Cann

Utah State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 2, 2010

Abstract

For years, scholars of elections have argued about whether campaign finance limitations adversely affect electoral competition. In this article, we examine how the institutional campaign finance restrictions differentially affect the performance of incumbents and challengers. Using elections for the state high court bench between 1990-2004, we demonstrate that candidate spending in judicial elections has diminishing marginal returns, but that the returns to challenger spending diminish more slowly than incumbent spending. Since this is the case, campaign finance restrictions that limit candidate spending dispropor- tionately harm challengers, increasing the incumbency advantage and decreasing electoral competition. That is, states with more stringent contribution limits have lower levels of candidate spending, and the restrictions thus put challengers at a competitive disadvantage.

Keywords: campaign finance, judicial elections, state supreme courts, judicial selection, elections

Suggested Citation

Bonneau, Chris W. and Cann, Damon M., Campaign Spending, Diminishing Marginal Returns, and Campaign Finance Restrictions in Judicial Elections (September 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1677942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1677942

Chris W. Bonneau (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science ( email )

4600 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.pitt.edu/~cwb7

Damon M. Cann

Utah State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

0725 University Blvd.
Logan, UT 84322-0725
United States

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