Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 21–41

Does Money Buy Votes? The Case of Self-Financed Gubernatorial Candidates, 1998–2008

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11109-012-9193-1

Cite this article as:
Brown, A.R. Polit Behav (2013) 35: 21. doi:10.1007/s11109-012-9193-1


Because campaign spending correlates strongly with election results, observers of American politics frequently lament that money seems to buy votes. However, the apparent effect of spending on votes is severely inflated by omitted variable bias: The best candidates also happen to be the best fundraisers. Acting strategically, campaign donors direct their funds toward the “best” candidates, who would be more likely to win even in a moneyless world. These donor behaviors spuriously amplify the correlation between spending and votes. As evidence for this argument, I show that (non-strategic) self-financed spending has no statistical effect on election results, whereas (strategic) externally-financed spending does.


Campaign effectsCampaign spendingGubernatorial elections

Supplementary material

11109_2012_9193_MOESM1_ESM.docx (53 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 54 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA