A Simple Explanation for Why Campaign Expenditures are Increasing: the Government is Getting Bigger

In this paper, John R. Lott, Jr. explains that most of the recent increases in campaign spending for federal and state offices can be explained by higher government spending. This result holds for both federal and state legislative campaigns and for gubernatorial races as well as across many different specifications. The author also examines whether it is the composition and not just the level of expenditures that determines campaign spending and whether higher government expenditures result in more candidates competing for office. Finally, by focusing on the symptoms and not the root causes of increasing campaign expenditures, this paper argues that the current public policy debate risks changing the form in which payments are made, rather than actually restricting the level of competition.


The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.