Do Public Funding Programs Enhance Electoral Competition?

Our goal is to apply traditional techniques of social science inference to assess the impact of public funding on state legislative elections. Although there have already been a few cuts at this, we argue that these initial evaluations are incomplete. Some reports, especially those produced by advocacy groups that strongly support public funding, overstate the effect of the new law and ignore other factors (such as term limits or redistricting) that have without question shaped outcomes.9 Others, including the General Accounting Office’s evaluation of the Maine and Arizona programs, understate the reforms’ impact, in part by making some unusual methodological choices and jettisoning valuable data. We will navigate between these two edges, and make an effort to specify the conditional nature of our conclusions.


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