Public Choice

, Volume 140, Issue 3–4, pp 357–377

How prices matter in politics: the returns to campaign advertising



The apparent ineffectiveness of incumbent campaign spending in congressional elections is one of the enduring puzzles in the political economy literature. Previous work in this area has assumed that advertising prices are uniform across congressional districts, and therefore that campaign spending alone is a good proxy for campaign advertising. However, candidates in different districts face widely different advertising prices and this paper shows that differences in advertising costs are one source of the apparent ineffectiveness of campaign spending. Accounting for the price of advertising, this paper shows that campaign spending is productive for both incumbents and challengers.


Campaign advertising Campaign spending 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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