Presenter Information

Lucas Fortier, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

Start Date

30-4-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

30-4-2015 10:55 AM

Project Type

Poster

Description

The purpose of this study was to shed light on the controversial area of independent expenditures in the post-Citizens United world of campaign finance. The study focuses on three questions: who are the main players participating in this area of campaign finance, how are these outside groups being funded, and how do these groups spend their money to influence elections? Some findings of the study were that, while there was a large number of registered SuperPACs and political nonprofits in the 2014 midterm elections, only a relatively small group of 70 major organizations accounted for over 90 percent of total outside expenditures made. This finding demonstrates that the current outside spending landscape is not very democratic or representative of a wide array of interests. In addition, a small group of corporations and their wealthy patrons fund the majority of the activities undertaken by these groups. Finally, the major independent organizations concentrate most of their money in only a few key Senate and House races, so that the vast majority of candidates see very little attention and support by outside groups. And the attention that the key competitive races do receive is overwhelmingly in the form of negative advertisements that gives American campaigns an increasingly nasty tone. Finally, the study looks at possible future trends in outside expenditures in American elections, particularly looking at potential developments ahead of the 2016 Presidential election cycle. A key finding of this study is that outside spending can no longer be framed as a partisan issue, in which conservative interests hold a clear advantage at the expense of the Democratic Party, since liberal independent groups actually outspent their conservative counterparts in the 2014 midterm elections.

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Government Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1221

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Apr 30th, 9:00 AM Apr 30th, 10:55 AM

Outside Spending in the 2014 Midterm Elections: The Lasting Effects of Citizens United

Parker-Reed, SSWAC

The purpose of this study was to shed light on the controversial area of independent expenditures in the post-Citizens United world of campaign finance. The study focuses on three questions: who are the main players participating in this area of campaign finance, how are these outside groups being funded, and how do these groups spend their money to influence elections? Some findings of the study were that, while there was a large number of registered SuperPACs and political nonprofits in the 2014 midterm elections, only a relatively small group of 70 major organizations accounted for over 90 percent of total outside expenditures made. This finding demonstrates that the current outside spending landscape is not very democratic or representative of a wide array of interests. In addition, a small group of corporations and their wealthy patrons fund the majority of the activities undertaken by these groups. Finally, the major independent organizations concentrate most of their money in only a few key Senate and House races, so that the vast majority of candidates see very little attention and support by outside groups. And the attention that the key competitive races do receive is overwhelmingly in the form of negative advertisements that gives American campaigns an increasingly nasty tone. Finally, the study looks at possible future trends in outside expenditures in American elections, particularly looking at potential developments ahead of the 2016 Presidential election cycle. A key finding of this study is that outside spending can no longer be framed as a partisan issue, in which conservative interests hold a clear advantage at the expense of the Democratic Party, since liberal independent groups actually outspent their conservative counterparts in the 2014 midterm elections.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/171