New Study: Longer Presidential Campaigns Correlated With Contribution Limits

CCP Study Shows Post-FEC Era Presidential Campaigns 198 Days Longer On Average

Alexandria, VA –  The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), America’s largest non-profit working to promote and defend First Amendment rights to free political speech, assembly, and petition, today released a study showing that since the Federal candidate contribution limits were implemented in 1974, the average duration of Presidential campaigns by the eventual party nominee has increased dramatically – by nearly 200 days.

Lower limits means that potential candidates can no longer wait to declare their candidacies. For example, the late November 1967 entrance of Eugene McCarthy into the Democratic primary – launched with funding from only a few wealthy donors – was instrumental in forcing President Johnson from the race. Such an event would be unheard of in today’s highly regulated environment.

“Campaigns that seem to go on forever are in part a consequence of campaign finance laws passed by incumbents to help protect incumbents. Because of regulations on political speech implemented in the 1970s, campaigns for President today are much longer than the Presidential campaigns of the 50s and 60s,” said CCP President David Keating. “LBJ’s 1964 campaign was less than 100 days long!”

“The importance of fundraising – and of demonstrating one’s viability as a candidate through fundraising – combined with low contribution limits pushes candidates to declare earlier than they otherwise would. In a perfect world, candidates would be able to raise the resources they needed to get their message out quickly and decide whether to run later, something I’m sure most Americans frustrated by what seems to be permanent political campaigning would happily embrace.”

The study is available at this link.

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