POLI 360 – Lecture 16
∙ Campaign Spending
o Total spending has increased in presidential and congressional elections. o More money used to be spent on presidential nomination campaigns than in the
general election because candidates can use public funding in the general election. This is no longer true because candidates can raise more money on their own than
they would receive from public funding.
o Parties fund national conventions.
o Types of Party Expenditures
1. Direct Expenditures: money given to candidates by parties.
2. Coordinated Expenditures: money given to candidates for polls, ads, etc. by the parties. These amounts of money are limited, but this type of
expenditure does give parties more control over where the candidates
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spend the parties’ funds.
3. Soft Money: money that can be spent on partybuilding activities. Basically any money that is not spent on federal campaigns, including
issue advocacy ads.
∙ Soft money was created indirectly when public funding was
relegated to preferable sections of campaigning, such as ads and
direct mail, leaving few funds for party building. The 1979
Buckley v. Valeo decision exempted federal funds from being
spent on party building activities.
o Democrats were more dependent on soft money than Republicans because
Democrats had fewer individual donors.
o The BCRA banned most soft money.
o Political Action Committees (PACs): political groups that fundraise and spend
money to influence different elections.
o Types of PACs
Sponsored PACs: set up by labor unions, trade associations, or
Nonconnected PACs: no sponsoring organizations; usually conservative
Leadership PACs: set up by incumbent congresspeople to distribute funds to other candidates. These types of PACs create alliances, which are If you want to learn more check out What was the outcome of citizens united v federal election commission 2010?
highly valued by congresspeople looking to move up in the leadership. o People can donate as much money as they like to PACs.
o Most PAC money goes to congressional campaigns.
o Other Sources of Fundraising
1. Super PACs: can give unlimited funds in support of candidates, but cannot
give funds directly to candidates.
2. Public funding (for presidential elections).
3. Individual contributors (were not very important in presidential elections prior to 2008 because public funding was more profitable than seeking
4. The candidates themselves can fund their campaigns. For example, Jon Corzine, a New Jersey businessman, spent millions of his own money on
his senatorial campaign.
∙ Campaign Finance Reforms
o The two biggest reforms in recent years have been the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA) and the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court
o BCRA aimed to reduce soft money campaign donations, whereas the Citizens United decision promote soft money in campaigns because the Supreme Court
defined money as a form of free speech.
The Citizens United decision rationalized if candidates can contribute as much of their own money as they want to their own campaigns, We also discuss several other topics like What is the impact of natural science?
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corporations and labor unions should be able to donate unlimited money to
political organizations (not including political parties).
o BCRA and the Citizens United decision both reduced parties’ roles in campaign
o BCRA eliminated soft money used for campaign ads; instead, that money was
sent to outside groups.
o Parties coordinate citizen preferences, but their reduced roles in fundraising give them smaller voices, less governing responsibility, and less accountability for campaign ads and Super PAC actions, especially when Super PACs do not
disclose their donors.
o Essentially, BCRA was unsuccessful because soft money is still active in outside
groups that are even less accountable than political parties.
o One substitute is to bring back soft money to political parties, which would give We also discuss several other topics like What is the content of gideon versus wainwright?
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parties more control over campaign ads and messages.
o Another substitute is to allow unlimited donations to the candidates, as opposed to Super PACs with which the candidates cannot coordinate.