January 6, 2016


How Campaign Finance Reform Contributed to Polarization : A new book shows how party money goes toward more moderate candidates. (SETH MASKET  JAN 4, 2016, Pacific Standard)

Parties, it turns out, tend to support relatively moderate candidates. They do so because, as the authors note, "parties are the sole political organization whose primary goal is to win elections." This is a key point. Issue activists, individual donors, and others tend to back relatively extreme candidates precisely because they want those candidates to move the government in one direction or another. They have a set of issues they care about--abortion, corporate tax rates, minimum wage levels, etc.--and they fiercely want to change the direction of government on those issues. They may end up giving to candidates to reward them for their past stances on issues and to encourage them to remain steadfast to their agenda.

The formal parties, by contrast, are chiefly concerned with winning and holding majorities in Washington, D.C., and in the state capitols. They send their money where it is most needed--usually to competitive districts where relatively moderate candidates are in close races.

So what happens when you cut party funding out of the equation? That's what a lot of states have done in recent decades, placing limits on what individuals can give to parties and what parties can contribute to candidate coffers. Basically, this hurts the more moderate candidates. The money still in the system comes disproportionately from more ideologically extreme donors and goes to more polarized candidates.

Only allow non-individuals to contribute to parties.

Posted by at January 6, 2016 6:07 PM