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Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections

Posted: 8 Jun 2002  

Dhammika Dharmapala

University of Chicago Law School

Filip Palda

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Ecole Nationale d'Administration Publique

Abstract

This paper investigates the effects of the sources of candidates' campaign funding on their electoral outcomes, with particular emphasis on whether candidates who rely on a narrow base of funding suffer adverse electoral consequences. An extensive dataset consisting of over 650,000 contributions to House candidates in elections from 1980 to 1992 is used. The results reveal a negative relationship between the concentration of contributions and voteshare for open seat candidates and challengers. This may have significant implications for some of the empirical premises underlying the US Supreme Court's landmark Buckley v. Valeo decision. At the very least the finding is an important stylized fact about US elections which is robust over the 1980's and early 1990's.

Keywords: Campaign contributions, Campaign finance, Free speech, Buckley v. Valeo

JEL Classification: D72, K39

Suggested Citation

Dharmapala, Dhammika and Palda, Filip, Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections. Public Choice, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=312880

Dhammika Dharmapala (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Filip Palda

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Ecole Nationale d'Administration Publique ( email )

4750 Henri-Julien (#4040)
Montreal, Quebec H2T 3E5
Canada

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