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Do private campaing contributions affect electoral results? An examination of Argentine national elections

Freille, Sebastián (2015): Do private campaing contributions affect electoral results? An examination of Argentine national elections.

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Abstract

In this paper we examine the impact of campaign contributions on electoral results in Argentine elections for the period 2003-2013. We provide a model of a multi-party electoral competition with mixed campaign contributions. Using previously unavailable micro-level data on private campaign contributions we test several hypothesis concerning the relationship between contributions and electoral results. Our findings suggest that while parties receive both public and private funds, only private contributions are significantly associated with electoral performance --i.e. the higher the ratio of private to public contributions the higher the vote share. Interestingly, while challengers see an increase in vote shares as a result of an increase in private contributions, this is not the case for incumbents. One possible explanation for this is that incumbents have other sources of funding available to them --official advertising, informal campaign spending- which are substitutes to formal private funding. This intuition has important implications for policy design as limiting or prohibiting private contributions in the legal regime may actually be more detrimental to challengers than to incumbents, with the likely effect of increasing incumbency advantage.

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