In real English: The Citizens Election Program (CT’s public financing system) was slammed in two separate reports on its effectiveness by the Campaign Finance Institute and Center for Competitive Politics.
The CCP is a conservative organization, as opposed to CFI’s nonpartisan status; therefore, only the CFI press release is noted below (campaign finance is an extremely partisan issue, didn’t you know?).
In 2005, Connecticut became the third state in the country to adopt a voluntary system of full public financing for candidates who run for election to the state legislature and statewide constitutional office, the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP). The system went into effect for the election of 2008. In 2006 a team of scholars set out to study the results of what would be a rare natural experiment: the scholars would compare the political system in 2006 with that of 2008. This is a preliminary report on The Campaign Finance Institute’s (CFI) part of the project. CFI is a nonpartisan research institute affiliated with The George Washington University. Its work in this project has focused on donors, with a particular emphasis on the role of small donors. Other aspects of the state’s system – including candidate recruitment, competition, political parties and interest groups – were being considered by others.
CFI is reporting preliminary results at this time because a recent federal district court decision declared that two provisions in the CEP made the law unconstitutional and people in the state say the decision has put pressure on them to respond quickly. Rather than wait until a final research report, which will be forthcoming, CFI decided to publish preliminary results now in case those participating in current deliberations may find them useful.
When the Connecticut General Assembly was considering the CEP in 2005, its supporters expressed two different kinds of policy goals with respect to campaign donors: (1) to reduce the role of large donors and (2) to provide an incentive for candidates to raise their small, qualifying contributions from a broader and more diverse set of constituents. Our major conclusions (detailed below) are:
- The CEP has succeeded in reducing the role of large donors, who were not representative of the state as a whole;
- The requirements for small qualifying contributions meant that candidates actually raised money from a larger number of individual donors in 2008 than 2006;
- However, because there was no incentive for candidates to raise private funds after qualifying, most candidates appear not to have reached out to a broader and more diverse set of donors from the kinds of people who gave in 2006.
Because of this final point, policy makers considering revisions to the system should look for comparison at low-donor multiple matching fund systems that permit donors to become involved throughout the election season (such as New York City’s) or newly proposed hybrid systems that combine grants with multiple matching funds (such as in the federal Fair Elections Now Act).
2006 DONOR PROFILE
- In the 2006 election cycle – the last in Connecticut before that state’s Citizens’ Election Program took effect – about half of the money raised by gubernatorial candidates came from individuals who gave the candidate $1,000 or more, according to CFI’s analysis of data provided by the National Institute for Money in State Politics (see Figure 1).
- Legislative candidates in 2006 did not raise much money from donors who gave $1,000 or more to a single candidate, partly because of low contribution limits for House candidates ($250 per election for the House, $1,000 for the Senate and $3,500 for Governor). But they received 1/3 of their money from PACs which strongly favored incumbents and 9% from individuals who gave $500 or more (see Figure 2 and Table 1).
- Income distribution: Donors who gave large amounts were not like the rest of the state. Figure 3 shows the distribution of incomes among donors and non-donors based on parallel 2007 CFI surveys of both groups.Nearly 60 percent of the donors in the survey who gave $500 or more (to all gubernatorial and state legislative candidates combined) had household incomes of $250,000 or more. One-quarter were above $500,000. The average Connecticut household earned $65,496 in 2006.
2008 DONORS COMPARED TO 2006
Under Connecticut’s system, participating candidates must collect qualifying contributions of from $5 to $100 per donor. House candidates qualify after raising $5,000 in contributions, 150 of which must be in-district, or from a town at least part of which is in-district. Senate candidates must raise $15,000, with 300 in-district (or town). Excess private contributions go to the Citizens’ Election Fund. Because there was no gubernatorial election in 2008, we cannot yet compare gubernatorial donors before and after public financing.
- Most state legislative candidates who participated in the CEP received money from a larger number of individual donors in 2008 than the predecessor candidate of the same party and same district in 2006. Participating candidates (especially incumbents) were shifting from PACs to individuals. Donors to participating candidates were limited to giving a maximum of $100 in qualifying contributions and the total from private funding was well below the size of the public grant.
- But because there was no incentive to raise money from more donors than were needed to qualify, few participating candidates did so.
- As a result, most candidates seemed to stay within “comfort zones” – going to old donor or business-social networks (excluding lobbyists and their families, and state contractors and their families, whose gifts are prohibited under the CEP).
- The income and racial compositions of typical donor neighborhoods for donors who gave $30 or more was about the same in 2008 as 2006 – wealthier than the state average, with fewer minority residents.
- Information is not available for donors who gave less than $30 in 2006. Donors who gave $5-$30 gifts to CEP candidates in 2008 appear to have come from only modestly less affluent neighborhoods than those who gave more than $30 to the same candidates in 2008.
- Note that because CFI did not conduct a survey in 2008, the comparisons are of donors’ neighborhoods. Without a survey, it is not possible to get income or demographic information for individual donors. The findings are based on census block groups, which are small enough (optimum size of about 1,500) to be reliable for this purpose. Further information is available on request.
The CEP has succeeded in reducing the impact of large donors for participating candidates. In addition, even though the total amount of private money in 2008 was much less than in 2006 (by the same candidate or same party in the same district) the participating candidates actually had a larger number of individual contributors in 2008 than 2006.
However, the CEP seems to have fallen short with respect to another objective. Some legislators said during floor debates in 2005 that one goal was to induce candidates to reach out to a more representative set of donors and volunteers, not simply to get to get private contributions out of the system. The findings reported above suggest that, contrary to this goal, full public funding was not acting for most candidates in 2008 as an incentive for outreach to a broader and more diverse set of donors. Instead, most candidates shut off their private funding when the qualifying requirements were satisfied, knowing that any excess would be turned over to the state.
By comparison, other public systems that allow for more extensive cultivation of small donors would seem to contain stronger incentives for candidates to reach out to new people. These include:
- Multiple-matching fund systems, such as New York City’s six-for-one program, which continues matching through the full election season and thereby gets more people involved; and
- Hybrid systems, such as the one proposed in the federal Fair Elections Now Act. This system, which is not yet in effect anywhere, would begin with a flat grant and then move to multiple matching funds for low contributions. This system does not have a spending ceiling but permits candidates who receive a maximum amount of public funds to continue raising from donors who give no more than a total of $100.
Note that these conclusions comment only on the effects of the CEP program on donor participation. Effects on competition, candidate recruitment, interest groups and policy all are important but were not part of CFI’s research.
Filed under: Elections
From CT Mirror:
Months after the state’s public campaign finance system was struck down by the U.S. district court, the legislature’s election committee shed some light on what their fix will include.
Rep. James F. Spallone, co-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections committee, said Monday the bill to be introduced when the legislature convenes Wednesday will likely include scaling back the amount of public money candidates receive to run their campaigns and an easier route to participation by minor-party candidates.
“The bill will reflect ideas brought forth in conjunction with the court’s decision,” the Essex Democrat said about the court’s decision that minor-party candidates have too high a burden to qualify for public financing. “… The silver lining is that we already developed a proposal last year.”
Spallone said the exact details of the bill will likely mirror last year’s proposed changes to the law with a few adjustments to the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. That bill was passed by the Government Administration and Elections Committee but the House and Senate never voted on the bill.
That bill proposed eliminating the difference in grants for major party legislative candidates, among other changes.
A public hearing on the proposed bill is set for Feb. 10.
Senate Democrats Spokesman Derek Slap said too many people in leadership positions – including President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams, Jr.; Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan andGov. M. Jodi Rell – support the campaign finance system to not fix it.
“That says a lot about the support for it and making sure it doesn’t fall apart,” he said, predicting Senate Democrats will consider the committee’s recommendations “very soon. Probably in the next few weeks, if not sooner.”
The state is appealing U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill’s ruling to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, and Spallone said it’s critical the state has a plan because ”when the court rules the clock starts ticking on the law. So, it’s really important to be ready to act fast.”
If the state’s appeal is rejected, the legislature has seven days to fix the violations. If the legislature does not act fast enough, the whole campaign finance system would be thrown out, forcing candidates who have been counting on public financing to scramble for contributions.
About 75 percent of legislative candidates used public financing in 2008. This is the first year the money would have been available in statewide races.
Whether the legislature will move forward with changing the law before the appeal court renders its decision is still anyone’s guess, Spallone said.
“Do we pass a bill so that we try to moot the appeal and just change the law? … Do we have a new law that would replace the existing law? Or, do we have the bill in our back pocket waiting for the ruling? That’s a decision we will have to make as we go forward,” Spallone said.
Spallone and Rell favor reducing the amount of public money candidates receive for their campaigns, although Spallone would not say what the proposed new levels are before the bill is introduced.
“The key is to make it so it’s fiscally responsible but not in a way that would deter candidates. We will try and reflect what people need to run a good campaign not necessarily what they want or think they want to run a good campaign. We will make it attractive to candidates and I think those numbers can be lower,” he said.
Rell announced today how much she would like to see public funding scaled back for campaigns. Candidates for governor she would like to see receive $2.5 million versus the current $3 million for the general election, state senate would decline from $85,000 to $70,000, statewide offices from $750,000 to $400,000 and state representative $20,000 versus the current $25,000.
This change “will encourage citizen participation in the political process while limiting the role of private money in elections,” Rell said.
Sen. Michael A. McLachlan, R-Danbury, the ranking member of the elections committee, said he supports reduction of grants for candidates.
“Hopefully this bill will consider a reduction of grants in light of the state’s fiscal issues,” he said. “I am somewhat disappointed we didn’t deal with this last year.”
Spallone said he is not sure if the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision last week upending campaign finance laws and permitting unlimited corporate spending on political speech will affect his provisions to the state’s campaign finance laws.Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in January the Supreme Court’s decision has no affect on current Citizens’ Election Program laws.
Spallone said he is confident the legislature will move on the proposal because so many candidates are dependant on the outcome.
“We have people trying to run campaigns and they have to have confidence that they can rely on this innovative system going forward,” he said.
Filed under: Elections
For political science majors all around. Fun times!
Filed under: Elections
Or rather Jon Stewart does Citizens United
Filed under: Elections
On Citizens United
As long as I’m your President, I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you. – Barack Obama
Alma Wright – Trotter teacher
Cory Booker – Newark, NJ Mayor
Filed under: Elections
The Supreme Court ruled today on the Citizens United case regarding some portions of the McCain-Feingold Act. NYT:
By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.
It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.
The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.
Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year’s midterm congressional elections.
The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates’ campaigns.
The case syllabus
Key takeaway: The ruling removes limits on corporate and union independent expenditures during election season.
What to expect in 2010 and the future: More ads by corporations and union on behalf of candidates.
Filed under: Elections
Because how can you do reading for class in your speciality area and not want to make note of some interesting facts?
Reading: Political Behavior of the American Electorate 12th ed. By: William H. Flanigan and Nancy H. Zingale
Favorite Sampling of Legislation in the History of Elections:
- HAVA – Help America Vote Act. Passed after the 2000 Election disasters. Established the EAC (Election Assistance Commission), allowed provisional ballots to be cast, and enforced need for electronic databases of registered voters in all states.
- Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Expelled the use of literacy tests for determining right to vote, among other things. Most importantly, helped reverse the trend of black disfranchisement tactics occurring in the South since Reconstruction.
Filed under: Elections
Politics is my anti-finals.
Here’s some fun redistricting analysis and application via the wonderful world wide web. Enjoy!
Filed under: Elections
The following is a guest post from Stephen Ansolabehere and Nathaniel Persily (cross posted):
- As part of our national survey of attitudes toward courts and the Constitution performed by Knowledge Networks this past July, we included several items related to election law and voting rights. We wanted to assess public opinion on some contemporary controversies, such as photo ID laws and election-day registration, while also examining classic controversies, such as literacy tests, poll taxes and one person, one vote.The survey included (among others) the following questions regarding voting rights:
“Below are a list of voting procedures that are or have been used in the United States. Weâ€™d like to know whether you would approve of each of the following in your state.
Require that all people show that they can read in order to vote
55% approve; 44% disapprove
Require that all people show photo identification when they vote
84% approve, 14% disapprove
Require that all voters pay a $5 fee
3% approve; 95% disapprove
Allow people to register on Election Day if they can prove their residency and citizenship
62% approve; 37% disapprove”
On the classic controversies: our poll shows majority support (55%) for literacy tests. This might seem surprising, but this figure is consistent with results from two polls conducted by CNN in June 2006 and October 2007, which asked “Do you think people who cannot read or write English should be permitted to vote, or not?” One concern about those earlier polls might have been that using the word English might have primed respondents to think about this issue in the context of the contemporaneous debate over immigration, but our poll, which gets the same results, simply says “Require that all people show that they can read in order to vote.”
The same cannot be said for poll taxes, which seem to be almost universally opposed. Only 3 percent support paying a fee in order to vote. Perhaps if the survey had said the fee would be used to pay for elections or public schools (as classic poll taxes did) the figure might be higher, since it seems reasonable to assume that people are generally against abstract fees unconnected to any purpose.
With respect to contemporary controversies, our survey asked about photo ID requirements and Election Day registration. As with most surveys, we found overwhelming support (84%) for photo ID requirements. To be sure, the question did not limit itself to “government issued photo ID,” as many of the challenged laws do, but surveys on photo ID generally find substantial support. Unlike some other surveys that ask about Election Day registration (EDR), we added the qualification “if they can prove their residency and citizenship” and 62 percent of respondents supported EDR when so phrased. Adding that qualification might alter the share supporting EDR (as was our unfounded suspicion with the CNN literacy test questions) by capturing some respondents who focus, in particular, on the citizenship requirement and think the question is asking about raising the barriers to voting rather than lowering them.
It has been a while since surveys have asked about one-person one-vote, and redistricting is a topic most respondents might have difficulty understanding. Recognizing these challenges, we sought to gauge general acceptance of one-person one-vote today. In 1966, a Harris Poll asked: “Another decision of the U.S. (United States) Supreme Court was to…rule all Congressional Districts had to have an equal number of people in them so each person’s vote would count equally. Do you personally think that decision of the U.S. Supreme Court was right or wrong?” 76% said “right” and 24% said “wrong”. In 1969, a Gallup Poll asked: “The U.S. Supreme Court has required states to change their legislative districts so that each member of the lower house and each member of the upper house represents the same number of people. Some people would like to return to the earlier method of electing members of the upper house according to counties or other units regardless of population. Would you favor continuing the present equal districting plan or returning to the earlier plan?” 52% said continue present plan; 23% said earlier plan; and 25% had no opinion.
Our survey asked:
“Do you think all legislative districts in your state should have the same number of people per district or is it okay for some to have more people than others?”
Districts should have equal populations – 32%
It’s okay for district populations to differ somewhat – 53%
It’s okay for some districts to have many more people than other districts. – 12%
“Currently all state legislative districts have equal numbers of people. An alternative is to have districts with equal numbers of people in one house of the state legislature but give each county one representative in the other chamber, even though counties have different numbers of people.”
Which way do you think is better?
It is better to have districts with equal populations in both chambers. 54%
It is better to have one seat for each county in one chamber and equal population districts in the other chamber. 40%
The results suggest majority support for something like the current rule of rough population equality for state legislative districts (as opposed to the strict equality rule for congressional districts), but with a substantial share supporting the “federal model” allowing for county representation in one house of a legislature.