Does the Gift Keep on Giving?: House Leadership PAC Donations Before and After Majority Status

28 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2016

See all articles by John Aldrich

John Aldrich

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Andrew Ballard

American University - School of Public Affairs

Joshua Y. Lerner

Duke University - Department of Political Science

David W. Rohde

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 11, 2016

Abstract

The proliferation of external campaign financing at the expense of party financing has been thought of as a driver of political polarization. Party leaders face an immense tradeoff financing non-incumbent races when the party is out of power: while they care about gaining control of the House, they do not know how manageable a potential representative will be once elected. Leadership PAC (LPAC) contributions are a major mechanism of leadership control over the financing of congressional campaigns, with the hope of gaining influence over the future behavior of candidates. Using FEC contribution data from the 2006-2012 House elections and a new dataset that estimates candidate ideal points based on campaign finance donations the candidates received, we study differences between contributions of the LPACs of leaders and non-leaders of both parties, with distinction between when the party tries to regain or retain power. We find that the strength of ideologically extreme giving by party leaders is largely contingent on the electoral conditions of the election overall. Minority party leaders are generally incentivized to support more ideologically extreme candidates than when in the majority. We are directly interested in the impact of such donations on the propagation of ideologically extreme representatives, specifically how the weakening of tools of party leadership control over their members propels polarization.

Suggested Citation

Aldrich, John and Ballard, Andrew and Lerner, Joshua Y. and Rohde, David W., Does the Gift Keep on Giving?: House Leadership PAC Donations Before and After Majority Status (January 11, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2714096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2714096

John Aldrich

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-4346 (Phone)

Andrew Ballard (Contact Author)

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

Joshua Y. Lerner

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

David W. Rohde

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
919-660-7053 (Phone)

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