The Effects of Citizens United on Corporate Contributions in the 2012 Presidential Election
39 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
The 2012 presidential election saw a 426% increase in independent expenditures from the 2008 election ($202.8 million in 2008 to $1067 million in 2012), leaving little doubt that the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United decision opened the campaign spending floodgates. To what extent are corporations, the main subject of the ruling, the source of the increase? We argue that while Citizens alters the ability of corporations to contribute to campaigns, it does not alter their substantial risk in doing so. As a result, we do not expect major corporations to be a source of the dramatic increase in independent spending in the 2012 election. In fact, contrary to popular opinion we expect Citizens United to have very little effect on corporations’ overall contribution strategies. We test our expectations utilizing an original dataset of political activity and campaign contributions to political action committees (PACs) and Super PACs by Fortune 500 companies. Our findings support our expectation; corporate spending did not change as result of the Citizens United ruling.
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