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July 30, 2014

Can More Campaign Money Reduce Polarization?

Ray LaRaja and Brian Schaffner: "In our forthcoming book, we show that campaign finance laws that empower parties do lead to less polarization. Party organizations do, in fact, behave differently than other partisan groups by mediating ideological sources of money and funneling it to moderate candidates. It may seem counterintuitive to fight polarization by empowering parties, but states with 'party-centered' campaign finance laws tend to be less polarized than states that constrain how the parties can support candidates."

"We are not arguing that campaign finance laws are the underlying cause of polarization. But the rules often advantage the most ideological elements in each party coalition, who have an abiding interest in pushing for candidates who espouse their views of the world."

Ezra Klein highlights a chart comes from the authors which shows "what most people intuitively know: the small minority of people who fund American politics are much, much more politically polarized than the vast majority of people who don't contribute to campaigns."


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