Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Estimating the Effect of Campaign Spending on Senate Election Outcomes Using Instrumental Variables

  • Alan Gerber (a1)
Abstract

To examine the traditional view that challenger spending is more effective than incumbent spending, I reestimate the effects of spending using instrumental variables that affect a candidate's ability to raise campaign funds, such as candidate wealth levels. When the endogeneity of candidate spending levels is properly taken into account, the marginal effects of incumbent and challenger spending are roughly equal. In contrast to previous research showing that, because of higher marginal returns to challenger spending, the incumbent's spending advantage cannot explain high incumbent reelection rates, this article shows that in an average Senate election the incumbent's spending advantage yields a 6% increase in the incumbent's vote share. That incumbent spending wins elections has direct implications regarding the consequences of campaign finance reform. My findings imply that equalizing spending levels may significantly increase incumbent defeat rates, and caps on candidate spending may improve the chances of challengers.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abramowitz, Alan. 1988. “Explaining Senate Election Outcomes.” American Political Science Review 82(June):385403.
Abramowitz, Alan. 1991. “Incumbency, Campaign Spending, and the Decline of Competition in the U.S. House.” Journal of Politics 53(February):3457.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, 1990. “Winning Is Easy, but It Sure Ain't Cheap.” University of California at Los Angeles. Typescript.
Bianco, William T. 1984. “Strategic Decisions on Candidacy in U.S. Congressional Districts.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 9(May):351–64.
Born, Richard. 1986. “Strategic Politicians and Unresponsive Voters.” American Political Science Review 80(June):599612.
Caldeira, Gregory, and Patterson, Samuel. 1982. “Bringing Home the Votes: Electoral Outcomes in State Legislative Races.” Political Behavior 4(1):3367.
Erikson, Robert, and Palfrey, Thomas. 1992. “The Puzzle of Incumbent Spending in Congressional Elections.” University of Houston. Typescript.
Gerber, Alan. 1993. “Campaign Spending and Senate Election Outcomes.” Chapter 1, Ph.D. diss. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Giertz, J. Fred, and Sullivan, Dennis. 1977. “Campaign Expenditures and Election Outcomes: A Critical Note.” Public Choice 31(Fall):157–62.
Glantz, Stanton, Abramowitz, Alan, and Burkhart, Michael. 1976. “Election Outcomes: Whose Money Matters?Journal of Politics 38(November):1033–8.
Green, Donald, and Krasno, Jonathan. 1988. “Salvation for the Spendthrift Incumbent: Reestimating the Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 32(November):884907.
Grier, Kevin. 1989. “Campaign Spending and Senate Elections, 1978–1984.” Public Choice 63(December):201–19.
Hausman, J. A. 1983. “Specification and Estimation of Simultaneous Models.” In Handbook of Econometrics, vol. 1. ed Griliches, Z and Intriligator, Michael. Pp. 391448.
Hibbing, John, and Brandes, Sara. 1983. “State Population size and U.S. Senate Elections, 1958–1986.” American Journal of Political Science 27(November):808–19.
Hinich, Melvin, and Munger, Michael. 1989. “Political Investment, Voter Perceptions, and Candidate Strategy: An Equilibrium Spatial Analysis.” In Models of Strategic Choice in Politics, ed. Ordeshook, Peter. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Jacobson, Gary. 1978. “The Effects of Campaign Spending in Congressional Elections.” American Political Science Review 72(June):469–91.
Jacobson, Gary. 1980. Money in Congressional Elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Jacobson, Gary. 1985. “Money and Votes Reconsidered: Congressional Elections, 1972–1982.” Public Choice 47(1):762.
Jacobson, Gary. 1990. “The Effects of Campaign Spending in House Elections: New Evidence for Old Arguments.” American Journal of Political Science 34(May):334–62.
Jacobson, Gary, and Kernell, Samuel. 1981. Strategy and Choice in Congressional Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Kenny, Christopher, and McBurnett, Michael. 1992. “A Dynamic Model of the Effect of Campaign Spending on Congressional Vote Choice.” American Journal of Political Science 36(November):923–37.
Kenny, Christopher, and McBurnett, Michael. 1994. “An Individual Level Multiequation Model of Expenditure Effects in Contested House Elections.” American Political Science Review 88(September):699710.
Krasno, Jonathan S. 1994. Challengers, Competition, and Reelection: Comparing Senate and House Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Levitt, Steven. 1994. “Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House.” Journal of Political Economy 102(August):777–98.
Lott, William, and Warner, P. D.. 1974. “The Relative Importance of Campaign Expenditures: An application of Production Theory.” Quality and Quantity 8(1):99105.
Mann, Thomas, and Wolfinger, Raymond. 1980. “Candidate and Parties in Congressional Elections.” American Political Science Review 74(September):617–32.
Squire, Peverill. 1991. “Preemptive Fundraising and Challenger Profile in Senate Elections.” Journal of Politics 53(November):1150–64.
Shepard, Lawrence. 1977. “Does Campaign Spending Really Matter?Public Opinion Quarterly 41(Summer):196205.
Silberman, Jonathan, and Yochum, Gilbert. 1978. “The Role of Money in Determining Election Outcomes.” Social Science Quarterly 58(March):671–82.
Sorauf, Frank J. 1992. Inside Campaign Finance, Myths and Realities. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Snyder, James. 1989. “The Market for Campaign Contributions: Evidence for the U.S. Senate, 1980–1986.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Typescript.
Snyder, James. 1990. “Campaign Contributions as Investments: The U.S. House of Representatives, 1980–1986.” Journal of Political Economy 98(December):1195–227.
Stewart, Charles. 1989. “A Sequential Model of Senate Elections.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 14(November):567601.
Thomas, Scott. 1989. “Do Incumbent Campaign Expenditures Matter?Journal of Politics 51(November):965–75.
Welch, William. 1974. “The Economics of Campaign Funds.” Public Choice 20(Winter):8397.
Westlye, Mark. 1991. Senate Elections and Campaign Intensity. Baltimore: Johns-Hopkins.
White, Halbert. 1980. “A Heteroscedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroscedasticity.” Econometrica 48(May):817–38.
Wright, Gerald, Robert, Erikson, and Mclver, John. 1985. “Measuring State Partisanship and Ideology with Survey Data.” Journal of Politics 47(May):479–89.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed