Small Donors, Special Interests and Polarization in Congressional Elections
Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 26 Dec 2012
Date Written: 2011
I propose a theory of campaign finance, candidate emergence and polarization in Congressional elections. The model assumes that candidate emergence depends critically on the ability to successfully raise campaign funds. I model campaign donations as motivated either by demand for ideology or access. I find that the reluctance of special interest groups and other access-seeking donors to fund campaigns in the early stages of elections increases the influence of small donors and other ideologically motivated donors on candidate emergence. Empirical tests based on measures of non-incumbent ideology provide robust support for the theoretical predictions.
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