Buying Legislators or Buying Judges? The Impact of Campaign Contributions on State Judicial and Legislative Elections


Anyone running for an elected office knows the importance of campaign contributions- a resource that can potentially be translated into votes (Mayhew 1974). A great deal of research on contributions in elections at both the state and federal levels has focused on one of two topics: the effect of campaign spending on electoral outcomes, or the effect of campaign contributions on voting decisions. However, virtually no research has comparatively examined the effects of campaign contributions on electoral out- comes and in different types of elections. This research seeks to answer the question of whether there a difference between the ways in which campaign contributions affect judicial versus legislative races at the state level. We argue that the different types of relationships between judges and legislators and their constituents is key to under- standing where money may be more important. The strong representational linkage between legislative candidate and constituents, along with other contextual factors of the races, requires legislative candidates to amass greater pools of resources during their campaigns. Using an original data set of races in 16 states, we find that this is in fact the case, with contributions significantly affecting legislative candidate's vote share; there is no significant impact of contributions on vote share in judicial elections.

Author: Kristen Coopie Allen, University of Pittsburgh; Ian Palmer Cook, University of Pittsburgh

Judicial, Voting, Working Papers   :   September 5, 2012 10:48 AM  :  read more »   :  

About the Author

Ian P. Cook is a Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying American Politics. He has also been a researcher with the RAND Corporation. No material on this site implies endorsement by either institution.