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Expert Brief

More than Combating Corruption: The Other Benefits of Public Financing

This report summarizes some of the reasons beyond the anti-corruption interest that public financing is worth instituting.

  • Mimi Murray Digby Marziani
  • Adam Skaggs
Published: October 7, 2011

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Follow­ing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janu­ary 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC,[2] a torrent of money has flowed into Amer­ican elec­tions. The 2010 elec­tions that followed Citizens United were among the most expens­ive in our nation’s history. Total spend­ing was an estim­ated $3.6 billion[3]—an amount expec­ted to rise dramat­ic­ally in 2012. As the level of money involved in our elec­tions stead­ily escal­ates, there is increas­ing concern about the ways that heightened campaign spend­ing can purchase favor­able policy outcomes.

Among the most vital tools to combat the corrupt­ing influ­ence of outsized campaign spend­ing is public fund­ing of elec­tions. For more than three decades, public finan­cing programs at the federal, state, and muni­cipal levels have served, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, “as a means of elim­in­at­ing the improper influ­ence of large private contri­bu­tions . . . .”[4] Since the 1970s, federal courts have consist­ently relied upon the compel­ling govern­mental interest in curb­ing corrup­tion in uphold­ing public finan­cing systems from consti­tu­tional chal­lenge.[5]

But in June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provi­sion of Arizon­a’s public finan­cing system. In Arizona Free Enter­prise Club v. Bennett, the court declared that Arizon­a’s so-called trig­ger fund­s—ad­di­tional public grants made avail­able to a publicly funded candid­ate facing high oppos­i­tion spend­ing—burdened the First Amend­ment rights of those who opposed publicly funded candid­ates.

While the latest Supreme Court ruling will force changes to Arizon­a’s public finan­cing system (and other systems with similar trig­ger provi­sions), it contained a crucial silver lining for advoc­ates of campaign finance reform: The Court affirmed the over­all consti­tu­tion­al­ity of public finan­cing. In unam­bigu­ous terms, the Court made clear that “govern­ments may engage in public finan­cing of elec­tion campaigns and . . . doing so can further signi­fic­ant govern­mental interests, such as the state interest in prevent­ing corrup­tion.”[6]

As advoc­ates and poli­cy­makers seek to respond to the grow­ing levels of spend­ing in elec­tions by shor­ing up exist­ing public finan­cing systems and adopt­ing new ones, it is crucial that they high­light the time-tested anti-corrup­tion interests that public finan­cing advances. They should also note several other bene­fits that flow from public finan­cing.

Publicly fund­ing elec­tions promotes numer­ous bene­fits in addi­tion to fight­ing corrup­tion, all of which bolster the case for public finacing. By focus­ing exclus­ively on the signi­fic­ant anti-corrup­tion bene­fits of public finan­cing, advoc­ates have some­times over­looked these other ways that public fund­ing programs enhance the legit­im­acy of govern­ment. Fund­ing programs do not only reduce the oppor­tun­ity for corrup­tion and strengthen our percep­tion of govern­ment; they also promote contested and compet­it­ive elec­tions, foster diversity in the elect­oral process, and encour­age voter-centered campaigns.  

This memor­andum presents the best avail­able evid­ence of the lesser known bene­fits of public finan­cing.

Public Finan­cing Promotes More Contested and Compet­it­ive Elec­tions 

Few doubt that extraordin­ary Amer­ic­ans of ordin­ary means must have a mean­ing­ful abil­ity to compete for elec­ted office. Robust public fund­ing programs open the door for qual­i­fied Amer­ic­ans who might not have personal wealth or high-powered connec­tions by giving them the means to launch compet­it­ive campaigns. Several empir­ical stud­ies confirm this conclu­sion.

  • A 2010 study by a Univer­sity of Illinois professor found that, in each elec­tion since their public fund­ing programs were imple­men­ted, both Maine and Arizona have enjoyed a general decline in races with unop­posed incum­bents. In other words, with public finan­cing, elec­ted offi­cials in those states are increas­ingly more likely to face a chal­lenger when they run for re-elec­tion. [7]

  • A 2008 study conduc­ted by a Stan­ford Gradu­ate School of Busi­ness professor simil­arly found that elec­tions in Maine and Arizona between incum­bents and publicly financed chal­lengers are much more compet­it­ive than was true before public finan­cing was adop­ted.[8] This find­ing confirms that public finan­cing can provide newcomers with the abil­ity to mount effect­ive campaigns against incum­bents.           
  • Further under­lin­ing that public fund­ing increases the like­li­hood an incum­bent will have a compet­it­ive race, a team at the Univer­sity of Wiscon­sin-Madison found in a 2006 study look­ing at public finan­cing in several states that public finan­cing increases the pool of candid­ates will­ing and able to run for state legis­lat­ive office. [9]
  • A 2008 study by the director of the Yale Insti­tu­tion for Social and Policy Stud­ies and a Ford­ham Univer­sity professor found that radio advert­ise­ments which mentioned both major party candid­ates and encour­aged listen­ers to vote resul­ted in incum­bents’ vote shares fall­ing six to eight percent­age points.[10] By allow­ing chal­lengers to get their names out in front of voters, public finan­cing causes elec­tions to become more compet­it­ive than they other­wise would be.
  • A 2010 study conduc­ted by gradu­ate students at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service compared elect­oral data in Maine and Arizona with states that have no public finan­cing. The study found that public finan­cing mean­ing­fully increased the like­li­hood that incum­bents would face real compet­i­tion.[11] Over­all, Maine’s and Arizon­a’s legis­lat­ive races were more contested and more compet­it­ive than those in compar­able states.[12]
  • A study by a postdoc­toral asso­ci­ate at Yale Univer­sity concluded that public finan­cing encour­ages exper­i­enced chal­lengers within the incum­bent party to run for open seats more often than they would without public finan­cing.[13] Hence, public finan­cing not only encour­ages more indi­vidu­als to run, it also attracts high qual­ity candid­ates.[14]

Consist­ent with these research find­ings, public finan­cing is perceived as enhan­cing compet­i­tion—both by candid­ates and the public. A Govern­ment Account­ab­il­ity Office study found that healthy percent­ages of candid­ates in states with public fund­ing see it as a vehicle for spur­ring compet­i­tion.[15] And a 2009 poll in North Caro­lina found that 85% of people surveyed agreed that “the high cost of campaigns means candid­ates must be good fundraisers to win—and the need to raise a lot of money keeps a lot of good people from serving in public office.”[16] As a recent New York Times story on Connecti­c­ut’s finan­cing system put it, “For chal­lengers, the appeal is obvi­ous. Suddenly, they can have resources equal to an incum­bent’s without hitting up major donors.”[17]

Other anec­dotal evid­ence provides further support for the conclu­sion that public finan­cing encour­ages compet­i­tion. It is indis­put­able that the pres­id­en­tial public finan­cing program has enabled several insur­gent candid­ates from across the polit­ical spec­trum to trans­late wide­spread popu­lar support into viable campaigns.[18] The most notable example is Ronald Reagan, who depended heav­ily on public finan­cing to chal­lenge then-Pres­id­ent Gerald Ford—­backed by the Repub­lican Party estab­lish­ment—in the 1976 pres­id­en­tial primar­ies. Reagan had less than $44,000 in campaign money left at the end of that Janu­ary, less than 10% of Pres­id­ent Ford’s war chest. Thanks to the pres­id­en­tial public finan­cing system, however, Reagan was able to capit­al­ize on his small-donor fundrais­ing capa­city to accrue substan­tial sums of public money—$1 million in Janu­ary, $1.2 million more in Febru­ary, and more still in March. These funds were pivotal in allow­ing Reagan to continue his almost-success­ful bid—ul­timately, Pres­id­ent Ford won by a hair.[19]

Public Finan­cing Fosters Diversity in the Elect­oral Process 

Facil­it­at­ing new candid­a­cies yields another signi­fic­ant bene­fit—­di­versity. As it invites more play­ers into the elect­oral ring, public finan­cing regu­larly enables members of tradi­tion­ally under­rep­res­en­ted groups to run for polit­ical office.

Histor­ic­ally, many ethnic and racial minor­it­ies have been excluded from the polit­ical process, or have been led to feel that their pres­ence was not welcome. For instance, after winning his seat on the Los Angeles City Coun­cil, Coun­cil­man Ed Reyes stated:

My parents are from Mexico. I’m the first gener­a­tion that has grown up here, I’m born here. I don’t have the tradi­tional ties to the power groups or the power struc­ture. . . . Without public finan­cing, I knew that I would­n’t have been able to throw a stone like in the David and Goliath story. . . . With public finan­cing I knew I had a shot.[20]

The diversity-enhan­cing prop­er­ties of public finan­cing are widely docu­mented:

  • In a 2006 report from the Center for Govern­mental Stud­ies, then-Project Director Steven Levin repor­ted that while minor­it­ies repres­en­ted only 16 percent of all candid­ates in general elec­tions, they accoun­ted for 30 percent of publicly financed candid­ates.[21] The rigor­ous study noted that while women accoun­ted for only 31 percent of all candid­ates, they consti­tuted 39 percent of parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates in publicly funded systems.[22] Finally, the study docu­mented that in Arizona, the number of Native Amer­ican and Latino candid­ates nearly tripled in just two elec­tion cycles after public finan­cing was imple­men­ted.[23]
  • In Congres­sional testi­mony presen­ted in 2009, Jeffrey Garfield, the Exec­ut­ive Director of the Connecti­cut State Elec­tions Enforce­ment Commis­sion, stated that the number of women running for office in Connecti­cut is at an all-time high—and many credit public finan­cing with allow­ing them to run.[24]
  • Simil­arly, in Maine, just a few years after the launch of that state’s public finan­cing program, women were reportedly taking advant­age of public finan­cing at a pace nearly double that of men.[25] The Center for Govern­mental Stud­ies report cited above concluded that women are more likely to use Maine’s public finan­cing program than other candid­ates.[26] Accord­ing to then-Maine Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree (D-ME), Maine’s system has “increased the diversity of repres­ent­at­ives in the legis­lature.”[27]
  • A Bren­nan Center report issued in 2010 docu­mented a similar series of “firsts” result­ing from New York City’s small-donor match­ing funds system: the City’s first African-Amer­ican mayor, David Dinkins, parti­cip­ated in the program, as did the City Coun­cil’s first Domin­ican-Amer­ican, first Asian-Amer­ican, and first Asian-Amer­ican woman members.[28] Dan Cantor, Chair of the Work­ing Famil­ies Party, points out that the “multiple match system has tremend­ously lowered the barrier to candid­ates who come from a back­ground of service to communit­ies and unions.”[29] Although New York City, like many other state and local govern­ments, does not main­tain compre­hens­ive demo­graphic data, there is ample evid­ence that the use of the public finan­cing system has been one of the prin­cipal reas­ons for the increas­ing diversity in the New York City Coun­cil.[30] In fact, the current City Coun­cil, as of the 2009 elec­tion, is “major­ity minor­ity.”

Publicly Finan­cing Encour­ages Voter-Centered Campaigns

The major­ity of money brought in by major polit­ical candid­ates currently comes from a very small portion of the Amer­ican popu­la­tion—Amer­ica’s “donor class.” [31]

  • Accord­ing to data collec­ted by the Center for Respons­ive Polit­ics (and avail­able on their website, Open­, only approx­im­ately 0.26% percent of the U.S. popu­la­tion contrib­uted $200 or more to federal polit­ical candid­ates, parties or PACs in the 2008 elec­tion—but these Amer­ic­ans contrib­uted over 67% of all federal campaign dollars.[32]

  • An analysis from the bipar­tisan Amer­ic­ans for Campaign Reform docu­mented that resid­ents of Manhat­tan’s Upper East Side contrib­uted $72 million in 2008, more than each of the bottom 39 states and approx­im­ately 50 times the national per capita rate.[33]
  • Accord­ing to a 2010 study by the Campaign Finance Insti­tute, Amer­ican Enter­prise Insti­tute and Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, in 2008, U.S. House incum­bents received only 6% of their funds from donors who gave $200 or less. They received more than 13 times this amount from donors who gave $1,000 or more and from PACs.[34]
  • An analysis of campaign contri­bu­tions in the 2000 and 2002 elec­tions found that almost 90% of contri­bu­tions came from zip codes that are major­ity non-Hispanic white. In compar­ison, just 1.8% of campaign funds came from predom­in­antly Latino zip codes, 2.8% from predom­in­antly African Amer­ican zip codes, and 0.6% from predom­in­antly Asian Pacific Amer­ican neigh­bor­hoods.[35]

Given the enorm­ous finan­cial demands of modern polit­ical campaigns, candid­ates too often focus on a tiny minor­ity of known, wealthy donor­s—in­clud­ing non-constitu­ents. The troub­ling result is that fundrais­ing efforts do not reach most constitu­ents, leav­ing them with less inform­a­tion about their poten­tial repres­ent­at­ives.

Public finan­cing encour­ages voter-centered campaign­ing, draw­ing more voters into the polit­ical process. Public finan­cing accom­plishes this in vari­ous ways.

Under a full public finan­cing system, parti­cipants must estab­lish their eligib­il­ity by collect­ing a specified amount of small qual­i­fy­ing contri­bu­tions from their constitu­ents, neces­sar­ily contact­ing numer­ous constitu­ents, and often bring­ing many new voters into the elect­oral process. After qual­i­fy­ing and receiv­ing their full campaign fund grant, parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates focus nearly all of their campaign efforts on voter outreach. 

Spurred by parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates’ efforts to collect qual­i­fy­ing contri­bu­tions, small donor parti­cip­a­tion in Arizon­a’s gubernat­orial races increased substan­tially after the imple­ment­a­tion of that state’s public finan­cing program. A study of Arizona gubernat­orial contri­bu­tions found a three-fold increase from 11,234 in 1998 to 38,579 in 2002, with the major­ity of contrib­ut­ors earn­ing $50,000 or less.[36] A similar three-fold increase occurred for other Arizona races.[37] Simil­arly, in Connecti­cut, most state legis­lat­ive candid­ates who parti­cip­ated in the public finan­cing program received money from a larger number of indi­vidual donors in 2008 than the prede­cessor candid­ate of the same party and district in 2006, the last year without the program.[38]

Cicero Booker, a Connecti­cut State Senate candid­ate from one of the state’s poorer regions, recalled his exper­i­ence collect­ing qual­i­fy­ing contri­bu­tions. Many of the members of his district had never donated to a polit­ical campaign, but when they were told that small $5 contri­bu­tion­s—nor­mally incon­sequen­tial in enorm­ously expens­ive fundrais­ing campaigns—­would help Booker qual­ify as a publicly financed candid­ate, they eagerly chipped in.[39] Simil­arly, of her exper­i­ence running for Governor of Arizona as a fully-financed candid­ate, Janet Napol­it­ano explained:

[Public finan­cing is] the differ­ence between being able to go out and spend your time talk­ing with voters, meet­ing with groups, . . . trav­el­ing to communit­ies that have been under­rep­res­en­ted in the past, as opposed to being on the phone selling tick­ets to a $250 a plate fundraiser.[40]

Small donor match­ing funds systems provide even greater incent­ives for grass­roots fundrais­ing, partic­u­larly when small dona­tions are super­charged with a high match­ing ratio. Candid­ates must seek out a broad base of small donors, and new voters are drawn into the elect­oral process as a result.  

Take New York City’s exem­plary program. Serving millions of resid­ents for more than twenty years, New York’s program offers the highest match­ing ratio in the coun­try—­dona­tions of $175 or less are matched with City dollars at a rate of six-to-one. In doing so, New York City has enhanced the import­ance of small dona­tions, and has changed City campaigns for the better. A 2010 study from the Bren­nan Center repor­ted that:

  • The number of over­all contrib­ut­ors has increased signi­fic­antly—by 35%—since the enact­ment of the multiple match.[41]
  • Parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates rely on more donors, and on more small donors, than do nonpar­ti­cipants. In 2009, the typical parti­cip­at­ing City Coun­cil candid­ate enlis­ted the support of almost three times the number of small donors than did her nonpar­ti­cip­at­ing coun­ter­part.[42]

  • In 2009, the aver­age contri­bu­tion to a parti­cip­at­ing City Coun­cil candid­ate was $199, substan­tially less than the $690 aver­age contri­bu­tion for non-parti­cip­at­ing candid­ates. Simil­arly, in 2005, the aver­age contri­bu­tion to parti­cip­at­ing City Coun­cil candid­ates was $321, signi­fic­antly lower than the $804 aver­age contri­bu­tion for non-parti­cipants.[43]

Addi­tional stud­ies confirm the results docu­mented by the Bren­nan Center. Accord­ing to a report on New York City’s program from the Campaign Finance Insti­tute, in 2009 “1.75% of the city’s voting age popu­la­tion contrib­uted to candid­ates for city office.” While this number may seem small, it is more than three times the 0.49% of the New York State voting popu­la­tion that contrib­uted in state races. And, City contri­bu­tions rose even in a year in which voter parti­cip­a­tion decreased.[44]

Includ­ing more voters in the elect­oral process natur­ally leads to a larger, more diverse pool of donors. For instance:

  • Accord­ing to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, the share of donor activ­ity has risen in New York City’s outer boroughs; in 2009, donor activ­ity increased almost six-fold in Flush­ing, a heav­ily Asian-Amer­ican neigh­bor­hood that is home to Queens’ Chin­atown.[45]
  • Simil­arly, a scan of the occu­pa­tions of 2009 donors to New York City elec­tions reveals a surpris­ingly diverse group: among the tradi­tional lawyers and busi­nesspeople, contrib­ut­ors included a signi­fic­ant number of artists, admin­is­trat­ive assist­ants, barbers and beau­ti­cians, cab and bus oper­at­ors, carpenters, police officers, students, nurses, and clergy.[46]

Two midwest­ern states with partial public finan­cing—Min­nesota and Wiscon­sin—have also seen increased engage­ment with voters. One study by the Campaign Finance Insti­tute found that in Minnesota, 57% of funds were received from donors who gave $250 or less in 2010; in Wiscon­sin, 36% of funds were in this amount.[47] Small dona­tions in other Midwest­ern states that do not have public finan­cing for legis­lat­ive races—Illinois, Indi­ana, Michigan, and Ohio—fell between 3% and 12%.[48] The same study concluded that if small-donor match­ing programs were imple­men­ted in these states, a signi­fic­ant percent­age of total candid­ate funds would come from small donors, with projec­tions ranging from 61% to 72%.[49] Instead of court­ing an elite group of big donors, candid­ates instead would seek out small dona­tions from the elect­or­ate at large.

As these examples make clear, public finan­cing spurs greater involve­ment from members of the public.

One recent study found that small donors are more likely to volun­teer for a polit­ical campaign.[50] Specific­ally, “surveys of candid­ates in six states show that the candid­ates see a strong connec­tion between their small donors and the volun­teer support that they get.”[51]

Another study linked public finan­cing with increased voter turnout in Arizona:

Voter turnout increased by 8 percent, from 64 percent to 72 percent, between the 1996 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion (pre-Clean Elec­tions) and the 2000 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion (the first under the program). That number went up another five percent­age points to 77 percent in the 2004 pres­id­en­tial. Simil­arly voter turnout increased by 10 percent, from 46 percent to 56 percent, between the 1998 midterm elec­tion . . . and the 2002 midterm elec­tions.[52]

In short, publicly financed campaigns encour­age a greater connec­tion between would-be repres­ent­at­ives and those they seek to serve, strength­en­ing the elect­oral process and, ulti­mately, our demo­cracy.  


Labor­at­or­ies of demo­cracy in cities and states across the coun­try have been exper­i­ment­ing with public fund­ing programs for decades, and the myriad bene­fits of public finan­cing are now evid­ent. These programs not only reduce the oppor­tun­ity for corrup­tion and strengthen our percep­tion of govern­ment; they also promote contested and compet­it­ive elec­tions, foster diversity in the elect­oral process, and encour­age voter-centered campaigns.   


[1] The authors give special thanks to David Early for his research assist­ance and metic­u­lous cita­tion check­ing, and to Michael Wald­man and Wendy Weiser for their invalu­able edit­or­ial assist­ance.

[2] Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010).

[3] Ctr. for Respons­ive Polit­ics, The Money Behind the Elec­tions, Open­,­­ture/index.php (last visited Aug. 24, 2011); see also FEC, Over­view of Pres­id­en­tial Finan­cial Activ­ity 1996 – 2008, avail­able at­Pres/1_Over­view­PresFinActiv­ity1996–2008.pdf (show­ing money received by pres­id­en­tial candid­ates from 1996 to 2008 increased by a factor of four).

[4] Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 (1976).

[5] See, e.g., N.C. Right to Life Comm. Fund v. Leake, 524 F.3d 427 (4th Cir. 2008) (uphold­ing North Caro­lin­a’s judi­cial public fund­ing system), cert. denied, Duke v. Leake, 129 S. Ct. 490 (2008); Daggett v. Comm’n on Govern­mental Ethics & Elec­tion Prac­tices, 205 F.3d 445 (1st Cir. 2000) (uphold­ing Maine’s Clean Elec­tion Act); Rosen­stiel v. Rodrig­uez, 101 F.3d 1544, 1552 (8th Cir. 1996) (uphold­ing Minnesota’s public fund­ing system for elec­tions); Vote Choice, Inc. v. DiStefano, 4 F.3d 26, 38 (1st Cir. 1993) (uphold­ing Rhode Island’s public fund­ing system).

[6] Id. at 2828 (quota­tions and cita­tion omit­ted).

[7] Michael G. Miller, Clean Elec­tions vs. Polit­ical Speech 2 (2011), avail­able at http://www.mainecleanelec­­tions%20v%20Polit­ical%20Speech%20Miller%20March%202011.pdf.

[8] Neil Malho­tra, The Impact of Public Finan­cing on Elect­oral Compet­i­tion: Evid­ence from Arizona and Maine, 8 St. Pols. & Pol’y Q. 263, 263 (2008).

[9] Kenneth R. Mayer, Timothy Werner & Amanda Willi­ams, Do Public Fund­ing Program Enhance Elect­oral Compet­i­tion?, in The Market­place of Demo­cracy: Elect­oral Compet­i­tion and Amer­ican Polit­ics 245 (Michael P. McDon­ald & John Samples eds., 2006).

[10] Costas Panago­poulos, Level­ing the Play­ing Field: Publicly Financed Campaigns and Elect­oral Compet­i­tion, in Public Finan­cing in Amer­ican Elec­tions 176, 182 (Costas Panago­poulos ed., 2011) (citing Costas Panago­poulos & Donald Green, Field Exper­i­ments Test­ing the Impact of Radio Advert­ise­ments on Elect­oral Compet­i­tion, 52 Am. J. Pol. Sci. 156 (2008)).

[11] This study was conduc­ted at the Bren­nan Center’s request. Annie Gleason, Daniel Ferris, Justin Eppley, Mucio Gudoy, Stephen Sumner & Xavier Smith, Elec­tions and Public Finan­cing 3 (2010) (unpub­lished report), avail­able at­tions_and_Public_Finan­cing.pdf.

[12] See id. at 20.

[13] Conor Dowl­ing, Public Finan­cing and Candid­ate Parti­cip­a­tion in Gubernat­orial Elec­tions, in Public Finan­cing in Amer­ican Elec­tions, supra note 1010, at 184, 196.

[14] Due to the impossib­il­ity of controlling all of the factors that determ­ine the outcome in any partic­u­lar elec­tion, it is extremely diffi­cult to isol­ate the precise effect of public finan­cing on elect­oral compet­i­tion—or of any other elect­oral policy, for that matter. As a result, a few stud­ies have announced incon­clus­ive results when attempt­ing to meas­ure whether public fund­ing spurs compet­i­tion. For example, in 2010, the U.S. Govern­ment Account­ab­il­ity Office (GAO) completed an extens­ive study of the public finan­cing programs in Maine and Arizona, includ­ing an inquiry into compet­it­ive­ness. U.S. Gov’t Account­ab­il­ity Office, Campaign Finance Reform: Exper­i­ences of Two States that Offered Full Public Fund­ing for Polit­ical Candid­ates 4–5, 90–98 (2010), avail­able at The GAO’s find­ings on this topic were indis­put­ably posit­ive: They indic­ated, for example, that vote spreads were reduced in Maine and Arizona by a stat­ist­ic­ally signi­fic­ant amount, mean­ing those states had more close races and fewer land­slide elec­tions than similar states without public finan­cing. Id. at 35–40. Ulti­mately, however, the GAO declined to defin­itely attrib­ute this change to public finan­cing, conclud­ing that too many vari­ables affect elect­oral compet­i­tion.

[15] Id. at 47–48.

[16] Press Release, Demo­cracy N.C., North Carolini­ans Across Polit­ical Spec­trum Support Public Finan­cing to Address Corrup­tion (Dec. 9, 2009), avail­able at http://www.demo­­loads/PPPPoll­Press­Release122009.pdf.

[17] Peter Apple­bome, Connecti­cut Hope­fuls Flock to Public Finan­cing, N.Y. Times, Oct. 23, 2008, at A29, avail­able at­gion/connecti­cut/23towns.html.

[18] Candid­ates bene­fit­ting from public finan­cing include Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Gary Hart, Jesse Jack­son, Paul Tson­gas, Pat Buchanan, John McCain, John Edwards, Wesley Clark, Richard Geph­ardt, and Joe Lieber­man. Michael Malbin, Public Finan­cing for Pres­id­en­tial Elec­tions, in Public Finan­cing in Amer­ican Elec­tions, supra note 10, at 36, 41–42. After Pres­id­ent Barack Obama opted out of the pres­id­en­tial public finan­cing system in 2008, there have been vari­ous calls to elim­in­ate the program, and the House of Repres­ent­at­ives voted in 2011 to abol­ish the program entirely. The proposal died in the Senate, and advoc­ates have sugges­ted that modi­fic­a­tions to the pres­id­en­tial finan­cing program—in­clud­ing repla­cing expendit­ure limits with lower contri­bu­tion limit­s—­would revive the program, spur greater candid­ate parti­cip­a­tion, and incentiv­ize candid­ates to conduct outreach to small donors in lieu of large donors. See Anthony J. Corrado, Michael J. Malbin, Thomas E. Mann & Norman J. Ornstein, Reform in an Age of Networked Campaigns: How to Foster Citizen Parti­cip­a­tion Through Small Donors and Volun­teers 22 (2010), avail­able at

[19] Michael Malbin, A Public Fund­ing System in Jeop­ardy: Lessons from the Pres­id­en­tial Nomin­a­tion Contest of 2004 in The Elec­tion After Reform: Money, Polit­ics, and the Bipar­tisan Campaign Reform Act 219, 221 (Michael Malbin, ed. 2006), avail­able at; Brief for Amici Curiae Anthony Corrado, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in Support of Respond­ents, Arizona Free Enter­prise Club’s Free­dom Club PAC v. Bennett, 131 S. Ct. 2806 (2011) (Nos. 10–238 & 10–289), 2011 WL 661708.

[20] Ctr. for Govern­mental Stud­ies, Eleven Years of Reform: Many Successes—­More to Be Done: Campaign Finan­cing in the City of Los Angeles 23 (2001), avail­able at­a­tions/lacamp_fin.pdf.

[21] Steven M. Levin, Ctr. for Govern­mental Stud­ies, Keep­ing It Clean: Public Finan­cing and Amer­ican Elec­tions 46–47, (2006), avail­able at­ing_It_Clean.pdf.

[22] Id. at 47.

[23] Id. at 7.

[24] See A Look at H.R. 1826, and the Public Finan­cing of Congres­sional Campaigns: Hear­ing on H.R. 1826 Before the H. Comm. on House Admin., 111th Cong. 206 (2009) [here­in­after A Look at H.R. 1826] (state­ment of Jeffrey Garfield, Exec. Dir., Conn. State Elec­tions Enforce­ment Comm’n) (stat­ing that in the 2008 Connecti­cut state elec­tions more women had run for office than ever had previ­ously).

[25] Joshua Green, Clean Money in Maine, Am. Prospect (Nov. 30, 2002),

[26] Levin, supra note 211, at 39.

[27] A Look at H.R. 1826, supra note 224, at 71 (state­ment of Speaker Hannah Pingree).

[28] Angela Migally & Susan Liss, Bren­nan Ctr for Justice, Small Donor Match­ing Funds: The NYC Elec­tion Exper­i­ence 21 (2010), avail­able at http://www.bren­nan­cen­­ing%20Funds-The%20NYC%20Elec­tion%20Ex­per­i­ence.pdf.

[29] Id.

[30] N.Y.C. Campaign Fin. Bd., New York­ers Make Their Voices Heard: A Report on the 2009 Elec­tions 142–43 (2010), avail­able at­PostElec­tion­Re­port.pdf .

[31] See Spen­cer Over­ton, The Donor Class: Campaign Finance, Demo­cracy, and Parti­cip­a­tion, 153 U. Pa. L. Rev. 73, 76 (2004) (“While only 13.4% of Amer­ican house­holds earned at least $100,000 in 2000, these house­holds gave 85.7% of contri­bu­tions over $200 collec­ted by pres­id­en­tial candid­ates.”).

[32] Ctr. for Respons­ive Polit­ics, Donor Demo­graph­ics 2010, Open­,­­ture/donor­demo­graph­ics.php?cycle=2010 (last visited Aug. 25, 2011).

[33] Ams. for Campaign Reform, Money in Polit­ics: Who Gives (2010), avail­able at http://www.acrre­

[34] See Corrado et al., supra note 18.

[35] Pub. Campaign, Fannie Lou Hamer Project & William C. Velasquez Inst., Color of Money: Campaign Contri­bu­tions, Race, Ethni­city, and Neigh­bor­hood 2 (2003), avail­able at http://www.colo­rof­

[36] Ams. for Campaign Reform, Fair Elec­tions: State Track Record of Success (2010), avail­able at http://www.acrre­­tions-State-Track-Record.pdf.

[37] Levin, supra note 21, at 48.

[38] Press Release, Campaign Fin. Inst., CFI’s Review of Connecti­c­ut’s Campaign Donors in 2006 and 2008 Finds Strengths in Citizen Elec­tion Program but Recom­mends Changes (Mar. 2, 2010), avail­able at–03–02/Analysis_of_Connecti­cut_Citizen_Elec­tion_Program.aspx.

[39] See Conn. Common Cause, A New Kind of Polit­ics: Citizens’ Elec­tion Program Open­ing Polit­ics to Connecti­c­ut’s Citizens 3 (2008), avail­able at http://www.common­–4d­f6–92be-bd4429893665%7D/CEP%20RE­PORT%20—%20A%20NEW%20KIND%20OF%20POLIT­ICS%20FI­NAL.PDF.

[40] Ctr. for Govern­mental Stud­ies, Invest­ing in Demo­cracy: Creat­ing Public Finan­cing of Elec­tions in Your Community 3 (2003), avail­able at­a­tions/invest­ingin­demo­cracy.pdf.

[41] Migally & Liss, supra note 28, at 12.

[42] Id. at 15 & n.113.

[43] Id. at 15.

[44] Michael J. Malbin & Peter W. Brusoe, Small Donors, Big Demo­cracy: New York City’s Match­ing Funds as a Model for the Nation and States 15 (2010) (unpub­lished report), avail­able at

[45] N.Y.C. Campaign Fin. Bd., supra note 30, at 109–10.

[46] Migally & Liss, supra note 28, at 13.

[47] Michael J. Malbin, Peter W. Brusoe & Brendan Glavin, Campaign Fin. Inst., Public Finan­cing of Elec­tions After Citizens United and Arizona Free Enter­prise 2 (2011), avail­able at­ern-States-2July2011.pdf.

[48] Id. Michigan has public finan­cing for its gubernat­orial elec­tions. However, “[w]hile the program was effect­ive for over 20 years, fail­ure to amend it in recent years has rendered it obsol­ete” due to insuf­fi­cient fund­ing for candid­ates. Suzanne Novak & Lauren Jones, Bren­nan Ctr. for Justice, Campaign Finance in Michigan (2007), avail­able at http://bren­­ubp.pdf.

[49] Malbin et al., supra note 4747, at 12–16.

[50] Malbin & Brusoe, supra note 44, at 6–7.

[51] Id.

[52] Levin, supra note 21, at 49.