Spillover Presidential Ads and Campaign Contributions in a Polarized System

13 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2019 Last revised: 19 Feb 2020

Date Written: November 1, 2019


Estimating how campaign advertising affects contributions is a challenging problem. Urban and Niebler (2014) address this question by focusing on “spillover” zipcodes — zipcodes in non-competitive states which receive Presidential campaign ads because they share a media market with a competitive state. We revisit their results and find the relationship they find between contributions and ads is driven by mistakes in propensity score matching. With corrected matching, combined with regression, their result becomes insignificant. However, if we model contributions as a two-stage process — a decision to contribute followed by a decision on amount — we find evidence that spillover ads predict higher contribution amounts, but not the decision to contribute. We also study the separate effects of Democratic and Republican ads, and find evidence for both positive and negative partisan responses. We also find, consistent with asymmetric polarization, that Republicans respond more strongly to Democratic ads than reverse.

Suggested Citation

Black, Bernard S. and Lerner, Joshua Y., Spillover Presidential Ads and Campaign Contributions in a Polarized System (November 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3499808 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3499808

Bernard S. Black

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-2784 (Phone)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-491-5049 (Phone)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)


Joshua Y. Lerner (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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