Independent Expenditures in Congressional Primaries after Citizens United: Implications for Interest Groups, Incumbents, and Political Parties
Interest Groups & Advocacy (Forthcoming)
39 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2015 Last revised: 2 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2016
This article examines how Citizens United affected the balance of power among ‘outside’ groups in congressional primaries through 2014. Contrary to predictions of massive independent expenditures (IEs) by large corporations, the article documents: (1) an increase in the number and diversity of IE groups together with a decreased concentration of effort among them; (2) a relative decrease in the power of factional outsiders; (3) the emergence of ephemeral ‘in-and-out’ groups; and (4) among these, the emergence of single-candidate PACs, with the most significant growth being among those allied with incumbent office holders.
The article also speaks to some of the recent literature on political parties. The Super PACs most closely allied with the congressional party leaders, despite unlimited contributions, continued to choose not to invest in contested primaries, raising doubts about recent arguments to the effect that unlimited contributions to the parties would be likely to make a substantial difference in determining who runs under the party’s label in a general election.
Keywords: congressional elections, Interest Groups, Political Parties, Primary Elections, Independent Expenditures, Political Action Committees, Campaign Contributions
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