How The Public Funding Of Elections Increases Candidate Polarization


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

Andrew B. Hall
Andrew B. Hall
Professor of Political Science

Professor of Political Science at Stanford University