The Impact of Super PACs on the 2010 and 2012 Congressional Elections

22 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2013

Date Written: August 29, 2013


The rise of independent expenditures by outside groups in congressional elections following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United leads to the questions about whether and to what extent outside spending actually affects the outcome of congressional elections. After an overview of outside group activity during the 2010 and 2012 elections, this paper develops several statistical models to address the question of whether outside spending has an impact on elections in the House of Representatives. We find that outside spending has a statistically significant impact, although in different ways for the 2010 and 2012 elections, but in each case the effect is seen still at the margins.

Keywords: independent expenditures, outside groups, Super PACs, congressional elections

JEL Classification: H10

Suggested Citation

Farrar-Myers, Victoria A. and Gulati, Girish and Skinner, Richard, The Impact of Super PACs on the 2010 and 2012 Congressional Elections (August 29, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Victoria A. Farrar-Myers (Contact Author)

UT Arlington ( email )

Department of Political Science
601 S. Nedderman Drive
Arlington, TX 76019
United States

Girish Gulati

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02145
United States

Richard Skinner

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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