The Influence of Technology on Presidential Primary Campaigns
Forthcoming in The Best Candidate: Presidential Nomination in Polarized Times (E. Mazo ed.)
18 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 26, 2019
There is no doubt that the American people object to the high cost of election campaigns. For example, a 2018 Pew poll found that 77 percent of Americans would support laws to restrict the total amount of campaign spending. Support for spending caps crosses partisan lines. The idea of legal restraints on campaign spending receives the support of 85 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans.
Many blame the high cost of American elections on the Supreme Court's decisions in Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which deregulated aspects of federal campaign finance law. Ultimately, however, the origins of skyrocketing campaign costs long predate Buckley and Citizens United. More than any other single factor, innovations in communication technology have shaped presidential campaign spending since 1912. First radio, then television, and more recently the internet emerged as indispensable means of political communication. But the technological innovations have come with a high price for candidates and campaigns, driving costs relentlessly higher.
This chapter examines how technology has shaped the presidential nomination process, making the pursuit of the White House an ever more expensive proposition. This work is a chapter in a forthcoming 2020 book entitled The Best Candidate: Presidential Nomination in Polarized Times.
Keywords: Campaign Finance, Election Law, Presidential Campaigns, Election Costs
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation