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Thompson and Moncrief: Campaign finance in state legislative elections

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Thompson and Moncrief, eds. 1998. Campaign finance in state legislative elections. Washington DC: CQ Press.

Chapter 1

Lays out the general approach of the book. Looks at how campaign spending/finance varies with (1) legislative professionalism, (2) size of the state, (3) campaign finance laws, etc. See Table 1-2 (pg 15).

Chapter 5: Candidate Revenues in State Legislative Primaries

Many of the conclusions are what you would expect: e.g. Candidates spend more money in contested primaries than uncontested. A significant conclusion is that the incumbency advantage kicks in early in the campaign, with incumbents raising significant sums during primaries--and spending it in the general election (against a challenger who probably had to spend more just to win his primary). Thus, campaign finance reforms that put limits on contributions might have an effect opposite to what is intended: They might put a further handicap on challengers (relative to incumbents).

Chapter 6: Expenditures and the Election Results

The controversy (chicken-egg): Does money cause election results, or does money simply go toward likely winners?


  • Challengers' ability to compete is related to their ability to keep up with incumbents' spending--but few challengers are able to do so. For challengers, then, money does buy elections.
  • Candidate-centered campaigns cost more than partisan campaigns. In closely (partisan) competitive states, challengers can win with less money (based on party ID).
  • Public financing reduces the incumbency advantage