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The impact of Connecticut's clean election law: an empirical quick look

Rodriguez, A.E. and DeNardis, Lesley A. (2011): The impact of Connecticut's clean election law: an empirical quick look.

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Abstract

The State of Connecticut’s General Assembly passed a Clean Elections Law in 2005. In this paper we conduct a preliminary appraisal of the law’s performance based on recently published data on the voting results of the 2010 and 2008 state-wide office elections. The Clean Elections Law was considered among the most stringent in the nation at the time of its passage. It established full public financing for all elections to state offices, including the state legislature. The law applied to primaries as well as general elections. It allowed for supplemental monies in unbalanced contests pitting a privately-financed candidate against a publicly-financed one. The law also contained provisions banning campaign donations from lobbyists and state contractors.

Our study is similar to the 2009 one prepared by the Office of Legislative Research but with the benefit of additional data drawn from the 2010 election cycle. Importantly, we conduct our examination using statistical tests with significance thresholds at conventional 95 percent levels. We also add additional performance metrics to provide a wider lens to the appraisal. We use resampling methods to draw multiple simulated samples to calculate statistical significance. Resampling techniques provide a non-parametric determination of a statistic’s distribution and a measure of effectiveness that is not sensitive to deviations from the assumptions underlying most parametric procedures.

Based on the results derived from statistical tests of the assembled metrics it is difficult to conclude that the public funding of elections in the State of Connecticut is an unqualified success, or for that matter, a qualified success. It appear that the one conclusion that we can unambiguously draw is that the effusiveness and optimism of the various commentators supporting clean election laws has not yet come to be realized in the State of Connecticut.

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