Why Not Run? How The Demands of Fundraising Undermine Ambition for Higher Office
42 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2018 Last revised: 1 Aug 2019
Date Written: April 4, 2018
Scholars have examined a range of factors that may shape the pool of candidates who choose to run for office. Yet it is difficult to assess the importance of these factors on individual-level entry decisions with observational data. To overcome this challenge, we embed a conjoint experiment into a survey of local elected officials — a common pool from which candidates for higher office tend to emerge. We provide randomized vignettes describing election scenarios, then assess respondents’ interest in running in the given election. Our core finding is that politicians are more sensitive to variation in the potential fundraising burden than any other factor considered — including legislative salary. We also find evidence that politicians are 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