Why Not Run? How The Demands of Fundraising Undermine Ambition for Higher Office
46 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2018 Last revised: 14 May 2020
Date Written: April 4, 2018
A core question in the study of democratic politics is what factors influence the decision to run for office. A full accounting of the process of candidate emergence requires understanding the individual-level factors that influence potential candidates. Yet, existing studies typically focus on a single factor in isolation or study aggregate outcomes, rather than individual-level decisions. To overcome these limitations, we embed a conjoint experiment into a survey of local officials — a population from which candidates for from which candidates for higher office often emerge. We vary election scenarios and measure interest in running for the given office. Politicians are more sensitive to variation in the fundraising burden than any other factor considered — including legislative salary. Politicians are also deterred by the presence of an incumbent and by negative advertising. We find little evidence that they are directly responsive to their opponent’s ideology.
Keywords: campaign finance, candidate entry, elite surveys, local government, state government
JEL Classification: P16, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation