Campaign Finance in the Age of Super PACs

74 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2021 Last revised: 30 Aug 2023

See all articles by Christian Cox

Christian Cox

University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2, 2023


The United States Supreme Court 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission led to a major deregulation of election campaign finance law. A new political action committee emerged, known as the Super PAC, with a relatively unfettered ability to raise and spend money in elections. I characterize the influence of Super PACs on U.S. Congressional elections by estimating a novel election model. The model provides a comprehensive and tractable framework to analyze the effects of multiple heterogeneous players on election outcomes, incorporating endogenous candidate entry, candidate policy, committee entry, and committee spending across both the primary and general elections. I allow for unobserved heterogeneity in candidate valence and committee costs. Results indicate that Super PACs have small effects on voting outcomes and did, on average, slightly help Republicans. Super PACs also have modest effects on committee behavior, candidate policy platforms, and entry.

Suggested Citation

Cox, Christian, Campaign Finance in the Age of Super PACs (July 2, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Christian Cox (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics