The Business of American Democracy: Citizens United, Independent Spending, and Elections
55 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2013 Last revised: 12 Apr 2016
Date Written: October 2015
In Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions are unconstitutional. We analyze the effects of Citizens United on state election outcomes. We find that Citizens United is associated with an increase in Republican election probabilities in state House races of approximately four percentage points overall and ten or more percentage points in several states. We link these estimates to “on the ground” evidence of significant spending by corporations through channels enabled by Citizens United. We also explore the effects of Citizens United on reelection rates, candidate entry, and direct contributions. Implications for national elections and economic policy are discussed.
Keywords: Citizens United, independent expenditures, business, labor unions, parties, elections, campaign finance, direct contributions, candidate entry, democracy
JEL Classification: D72, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation