Race and Representation in Campaign Finance
72 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2019
Date Written: January 31, 2019
Racial inequality in voter turnout is well-documented, but we know less about racial inequality in campaign contributions. Using new data on the racial identities of over 27 million donors, we find an unrepresentative contributor class. Black and Latino shares of contributions are smaller than their share of the population, electorate, and elected offices. However, we argue that the presence of ethnoracial minority candidates mobilizes coethnic donors. Results from regression discontinuity and difference-in-difference designs suggest that the presence of ethnoracial minority candidates increases the share of minority contributions in U.S. House elections. We find little evidence of a donor backlash to minority candidates. Although we cannot definitively rule out alternative mechanisms that covary with shared ethnorace, the results suggest that the nomination of minority candidates can increase the ethnoracial representativeness of campaign finance without costs to fundraising.
Keywords: race and ethnic politics; campaign finance
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