Address: California State University, Chico - Political Science, 400 West First Street
City: Chico, California - 95929-0455
Country: United States
Political Parties and Interest Groups
Campaigns And Elections
There is a good deal of discussion currently among political scientists about the nature of political parties and the impacts of changing party–group relations. Are so-called outside groups promoting extreme candidates and, thus, contributing to polarization? Or perhaps, party-allied groups follow the party’s lead and support the same candidates the party supports. We view parties as extended party networks (EPNs) and examine the campaign spending practices of formal party organizations (the House congressional campaign committees) and some of the groups that are seen as allied with each party and some we expect to be outside each party’s network. We analyze the levels of congruence and divergence in party and group spending in the 2014 House elections. We find that most nonparty groups support the same candidates favored by the party with which they most identify, and very few are outside each party’s EPN supporting candidates who are challenging the party’s picks.
Super PACs can raise and spend money in unlimited amounts, but what do they do with their money? What goals do super PACs pursue in allocating their money? We analyze how super PACS spent their money in the 2012 federal elections. What principles guided super PAC spending strategies? Do they follow strategies similar to traditional PACs? We argue that their spending patterns have changed the dynamics of federal campaign finance by directing more funds to individual candidate races than in the past, particularly through candidate-specific super PACs. We find that most super PACs spend their money differently than conventional PACs in that they are less interested in access to sitting lawmakers and more focused on an electoral strategy to affect the partisan composition of government. Thus many super PACs behave more like political parties than traditional PACs.