What We Talk about When We Talk about Campaign Spending

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.3.02 (Tower One)
Steven Sprick Schuster, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
While research on the e ffect of candidate spending on voting outcomes has been
extensive, researchers have been forced to rely on summaries of candidate spending
which includes pre-election spending, fundraising expenses, and numerous other ex-
penditures that are not tied directly to the general election success of a candidate.
Using transaction-level data on candidate disbursements, I replicate the specificiations from several of the most influential papers, using alternative measures of candidate spending. I find that eliminating pre-election spending, and limiting the measure of candidate spending to only types of spending that are used directly on the candidate's  own campaign, leads to signi cantly higher estimates of the eff ect of candidate spending, and the disparate e ffect of challenger and incumbent spending largely disappears. Then, utilizing the 2012 American National Election Survey, which asked about voter intent before the election and actual voting behavior after, and candidate disbursement  data which allows me to track candidate spending throughout the campaign, I can determine the e ffect of candidate spending on individual voting behavior under very weak identifying assumptions. I fi nd that
spending by candidates on advertising and campaign events increases the likelihood
that voters will change their preferences in favor of that candidate and this e ffect is
particularly strong among voters who did not participate in the 2012 Presidential primary election.