Regulation and Upper Class Bias in Campaign Finance Systems

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In the campaign finance system in the U.S., organizations representing business and upper income actors numerically dominate those representing the middle class and the poor, raising the concern that policy outcomes are skewed toward the wealthy. Some campaign finance regulations are specifically designed to alter the mobilization of organized interests, yet we have limited knowledge of whether these laws actually work as intended. In this article I take advantage of variation in state campaign finance laws to examine how laws banning and regulating corporate and labor campaign contributions and expenditures shape the mobilization of upper class actors (i.e., business groups and professional associations) and labor groups, and ultimately "bias" in the U.S. states. Descriptively, I demonstrate that bias in state campaign finance systems is substantial. The multivariate analysis covering data from the early 1990s to 2010 shows that bans on direct contributions from corporations and labor unions reduce the mobilization of these groups and ultimately structure bias in the organizational population in state campaign finance systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-20
Number of pages15
JournalElection Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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