Trends in Campaign Finance and Its Effect on Outcomes of Elections Research Paper

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Campaign Finance and its effect on Outcomes of Elections

In this paper, we are examining the underlying trends in campaign finance. To do this we will look at four different gubernatorial campaigns. Once this takes place, is when we will be able to see what patterns are developing in how campaigns are financed.

Over the last several decades, the issue of campaign finance and its outcome on elections has been increasingly brought to the forefront. Part of the reason for this, is because the relationship between politics and special interests will come together during an election. As political candidates, are forced to run for office through spending massive amounts of money. While having to accept funds; from a number of special interest groups that have active memberships throughout the country. This has led to a host of scandals with names such as Watergate, illustrating how this relationship between political and special interests is having an impact on the outcome of the election. (Richey, 2010)

Since that time, there have been a host of different laws enacted to include: the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The Federal Election Campaign Finance Act established the Federal Election Commission as it banned any kind of outside influence through the establishment of 527 groups. While at the same time, it was limiting the contributions to political allies and supporters. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was supposed to limit these transactions through soft money.

However, this act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional. This is because there was a 5 to 4 decision among the justices about the impact of this legislation on corporations. As they felt that the law was a violation of freedom of speech by telling corporations what political candidates they are choosing to support. This is significant, because it is showing how the new regulations are having an impact on elections. (Rickey, 2010)

As a result, the underlying amounts of campaign contributions have been increasing exponentially. Evidence of this can be seen by looking in the below table which is highlighting these numbers from 2000 to 2011.

Total Campaign Contributions from 2000 to 2011 for Republicans and Democrats





Third Parties


$1.4 billion

$765 million

$695 million

$25 million


$189 million

$110 million

$77 million

$1.1 million


$2.6 billion

$1.3 billion

$1.1 billion

$125 million


$385 million

$156 million

$130 million

$2.1 million


$2.1 billion

$787 million

$787 million

$29.1 million


$756 million

$149 million

$129 million

$2.9 million


$3.4 billion

$1.3 billion

$1.3 billion

$56.3 million


$458 million

$208 million

$176 million

$17.4 million


$2.6 billion

$986 million

$857 million

$32.6 million


$406 million

$163 million

$108 million

$2.7 million


$3.5 billion

$1.14 billion

$1.6 billion

$67.7 million


$97.4 million

$47.7 million

41.3 million

$1.0 million

("The FEC," 2011) ("Industry Influence," 2011)

When you look at the leap years, it is clear that the total amounts of campaign contributions have increased from $1.4 billion (in 2000) to $3.5 billion (in 2010). This is a 66% increase in these figures over ten years. These elements are important, because they are illustrating how the campaign contributions from special interests and other organizations have increased exponentially. To fully understand how this is taking place requires comparing key contributions that are made to several key Governors' races from 1998 to 2010. Once this occurs, is when we will be able to see how changes in campaign finance laws have impacted elections.

The Governor's Races from 1998 to 2010

To effectively determine how the shifts in campaign finance laws are impacting the general public requires: monitoring the total amounts of spending and if it is a reflection of a shift in political campaigns. To determine the overall amounts of funds that are being raised during the process requires comparing four different campaigns with each other. This will be accomplished by monitoring for changes in the underlying trends and the impact that it is having on the nation. To do this we will look at these campaigns through different time periods. As we are concentrating on: the total amounts raised, spent, personal contributions and the amounts of funding by various industries.

The four different political campaigns that we are focusing on include: the election of Jesse Ventura (as the Governor of Minnesota), Rick Perry (the Governor of Texas), Ed Rendell (the Governor of Pennsylvania) and the election of John Kasich (as the Governor of Ohio). These different elements are important, because the combination of them will offer the greatest insights as to how the campaign contributions have been increasing. Once this occurs, is when there will be a transformation in the role that fundraising is playing in campaign finance.

1998: Jesse Venture is elected the Governor of Minnesota

In 1998, Jesse Ventura entered the race for the Governor of Minnesota with the Reform Party. He defeated Republican challengers Norm Coleman and the Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey III. During the campaign Ventura spent $300 thousand of his own personal funds. This was used in conjunction with a grass roots effort. As, the total amounts of spending are: accounting for approximately $500 thousand. While, the total amounts raised from in state donors accounted for $38 thousand and there were no funds that were raised from a trade groups. Instead, Ventura would wait for televised debates to illustrate his libertarian views in comparison with his challenges. This allowed him to be able to score points in front of larger audiences (which helped him to increase his overall amounts of popularity). ("Election Results," 1998)

Evidence of this can be seen looking at the below table (which is illustrating) the total amounts of financing actives for his campaign.

Jessie Ventura's financing Activities in 1998 Gubernatorial Race




Jesse Venture Gov. Committee



Jesse Ventura



("Contributors Results," 2011)

These different figures are important, because they are showing how Jesse Ventura financed his activities based on his own money that he was using during the campaign. This means that he had no corporate donors or any kind of political action committees providing him with sources of funding.

As a result, Ventura was able to defeat Coleman and Humphrey in a three way race. Evidence of this can be seen by looking at the below table which is highlighting the results of the 1998 Minnesota Governor's race.

Results for the 1998 Minnesota Governor's Race







773, 713










("Election Results," 1998)

These different figures are significant, because they are showing how the grass roots approach that was taken by Ventura increased his overall amounts of popularity. Where, he was seen as someone who was able to speak directly to everyone, in format that was different from his rivals. This was accomplished by not taking any kind of funds from industry or professional groups. Instead, Ventura's campaign was focused on effectively reaching out to voters who were tired of politics as usual. Once this occurred, it allowed him to stand out from the other two candidates in the race. As there was no particular group of contributors that had an impact on his fundraising other than individual donors. ("Election Results," 1998)

2002 Rick Perry is Elected the Governor of Texas

In the case of Rick Perry, he was first sworn in as the Governor of Texas in 2000. This is because, his predecessor George W. Bush was elected President of the United States and was forced to resign to serve in his new position. Originally, Perry was first elected to the position of Lieutenant Governor in 1998.

In 2002, Perry was running for reelection and was facing a tough challenge from Tony Sanchez. He was self-made oil man from Laredo and he had the ability to be able to raise tremendous amounts of funds. As a result, Perry started to focus his reelection efforts on key donors. The below table is illustrating the firms and political action groups that contributed to his campaign.

Rick Perry's Key Donors for the 2002 Texas Gubernatorial Race



Archbold Medical Center






Mobile Perry



Texans for Rick Perry



Texans for Rick Perry



("Contributor Results," 2011)

These different figures are important because they are showing how Perry was able to receive large amounts of funds from a political action committee called Texans for Perry. This allowed him to keep his corporate donations down. While at the same time, he was able to increase the amount of funds he was raising by having larger amounts given to his campaign from his political action committee. As far as the total amount raised and spent Perry, he was able to see a total of $3 million in contributions and he spent $4.25 million during the campaign. There were some personal contributions that were made by Perry…

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