Raymond J La Raja, “Candidate Emergence in State Legislative Elections: Does Public Funding Make a Difference?” University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Paper prepared for delivery at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 29-September 2, Chicago, IL.
The author examines whether the availability of public funding increases the likelihood that qualified citizens will decide to be candidates. While findings are tentative, surveys of community leaders in three states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island—show that public funding appears to encourage low income candidates and those who dislike fundraising or who are bad at it to try to run. Highly quality candidates are also more likely to run if offered public funding, as are those who are liberal ideologically. The full version of the report is downloadable in pdf format.
Key excerpts follow [Emphases added]:
- When asked whether the availability of public funds would increase their chances of running for state representative, 27% of respondents said it would. The potential effect of public financing varies across demographic groups. Individuals with incomes under $50,000 and nonwhites are more likely to say that the availability of public funds might encourage them to run for state representative.
- The most interesting finding…is that individuals who claim to have weak skills as fundraisers say that the availability of public funds would make it more likely for them to run. The model indicates a negative relationship between your self-assessed strength as a fundraiser and how much the availability would encourage you to run.
- At the same time, the model predicts that respondents who are perceived as good candidates by others are likely to view public financing as an inducement to run. Specifically, the more frequently a candidate reported that they were contacted by a group or individual, the more likely they viewed that the availability of public funds would encourage them to run.
- Overall, this preliminary analysis suggests that the availability of public funds might encourage more candidates to run for the state legislature, a finding that is consistent with a previous analysis on gubernatorial elections….Clearly many candidates in this study believe that fundraising is a serious obstacle to running for office….According to the findings of this analysis…the option of having public funds appears to change the calculus for quality candidates…..It seems especially important that the provision of public funding has the potential to help groups that are typically under-represented in the pool of candidates for the state legislature. Such candidates include, for example, those with low family incomes.
- It is noteworthy that the availability of public funds does not appear to increase systematically the motivation of marginal candidates to run for office. The findings, in fact, indicate that clean elections-style reforms might induce more highly qualified people to run. The respondents for whom public financing seemed to matter were more likely to estimate that they had good odds of winning the next election regardless of the campaign finance system. Moreover, they were more likely to have been contacted by groups. The latter indicates that these respondents are not self-delusional about their prospects; others think they are good candidates too.
|La Raja 2007 APSA.pdf||143 KB|