How the Public Funding of Elections Increases Candidate Polarization

In this article, the author shows that the public funding of elections produces a large decrease in the financial and electoral advantage of incumbents. Despite these effects on electoral competition, the study demonstrates that public funding produces more polarization and candidate divergence – not less. Finally, the article establishes that this effect is at least in part due to the fact that public funding disproportionately a ffects the contribution behavior of access-oriented interest groups, groups who, the study shows, systematically support moderate incumbents. Access-oriented interest groups therefore help generate the incumbency advantage and mitigate polarization by supporting moderate legislators.

Read the study here.

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