Not Simply Black and White: The Relationship between Race/Ethnicity and Campaign Finance in State Legislative Elections
40 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 4, 2014
In spite of the increasing campaign finance legislation aimed at equalizing barriers in political campaigns, a fundraising gap persists across racial/ethnic lines. In the era of modern campaigning, with the expenses of advertising and polling, among others, ample funds are necessary but not universally accessible to all candidates. This study addresses the relationship between candidate race/ethnicity and campaign fundraising, and the possible moderating impact of three dimensions of the state political context – state legislative professionalism, state Republican party strength, and state culture (South vs. Nonsouth). I evaluate fundraising totals across 15 states for over 3,000 candidates in the 2006 state legislative elections. Ultimately, the findings suggest that after controlling for other candidate characteristics, as well as district and state context, there is a negative, statistically significant relationship between candidate race/ethnicity and fundraising. In addition, the effect of race/ethnicity is moderated by two features of the state context - legislative professionalization and the state culture. This study finds that non-white candidates continue to fundraise less than their white counterparts and state context is important in understanding the race/ethnicity gap in campaign finance.
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