Don’t Blame Donors for Ideological Polarization of Political Parties

  title={Don’t Blame Donors for Ideological Polarization of Political Parties},
  author={Raymond J. La Raja and David Wiltse},
  journal={American Politics Research},
  pages={501 - 530}
Are campaign contributors to parties and candidates in the United States becoming more ideological? Popular and scholarly accounts suggest that political contributors have disproportionate influence in politics, which suggests an important role for them in shaping party ideology and widening the divide between the major American parties. Using the American National Election Studies (ANES) time series data from 1972 to 2008, we find that although the importance of ideology in motivating… Expand

Figures and Tables from this paper

Ideological Donors, Contribution Limits, and the Polarization of American Legislatures
This article demonstrates that limits on campaign contributions—which alter a candidate’s ability to raise money from certain types of donors—affect the ideologies of legislators in office. Using anExpand
Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail
Efforts to reform the U.S. campaign finance system typically focus on the corrupting influence of large contributions. Yet, as Raymond J. La Raja and Brian F. Schaffner argue, reforms aimed atExpand
Assessing the ideological extremism of American party activists
In this article, we investigate whether it is appropriate to generalize about the ideological and demographic characteristics of American party activists. Many studies on party polarization emphasizeExpand
Party Activists, Interest Groups, and Polarization in American Politics
• Parties are more than their formal structures. They cannot be understood without attention to the role of both activists and party-aligned interest groups. • The policy preferences of activists andExpand
Small Donors in Congressional Elections
Candidates raise substantial sums of money to compete in modern federal elections. Many electoral reform efforts focus on curbing the perceived undue influence of campaign donations by the wealthy.Expand
Richer Parties, Better Politics? Party-Centered Campaign Finance Laws and American Democracy
Would "party-centered" campaign finance laws that channel money pri- marily through party organizations improve American politics? Scholars have long argued that political parties are essentialExpand
Richer Parties, Better Politics? Party-Centered Campaign Finance Laws and American Democracy
Would “party-centered” campaign finance laws that channel money primarily through party organizations improve American politics? Scholars have long argued that political parties are essentialExpand
Donations and dependence: Individual contributor strategies in house elections.
This study offers the first analysis of aggregate contributions from the population of individual contributors to House candidates and finds evidence that the character of aggregate donations from repeat donors is more access-oriented even while controlling for other salient candidate characteristics. Expand
Refining (and Redefining) the Party
We begin this chapter by reviewing the literature that debates which elements make up a political party. While other scholars have touched on the importance of activists, no one has been able toExpand
Principled Moderation: Understanding Parties’ Support of Moderate Candidates
Recent scholarship has argued that parties strategically support more moderate, and thus more electable, candidates. Using interviews with party elites and new data on the party support and theExpand


No Middle Ground: How Informal Party Organizations Control Nominations and Polarize Legislatures
The new political machines fuel partisanship by supporting only candidates who follow the party's agenda. Despite concerns about the debilitating effects of partisanship on democratic government, inExpand
PARTY POLARIZATION IN AMERICAN POLITICS : Characteristics , Causes , and Consequences
■ Abstract Recent commentary points to clear increases in ideological polarization between the major American political parties. We review the theoretical and empirical literature on partyExpand
Ideological Realignment and Active Partisans in the American Electorate
This article investigates the consequences of ideological realignment for the motivations and policy preferences of active partisans—Democratic and Republican identifiers who engage in electoralExpand
Activists and Partisan Realignment in the United States
In this paper, we contend that party realignments occur due to the interaction of candidates and activists. We examine independent party candidates who are motivated primarily to win elections butExpand
Is Polarization a Myth?
This article uses data from the American National Election Studies and national exit polls to test Fiorina's assertion that ideological polarization in the American public is a myth. Fiorina arguesExpand
Activists and Conflict Extension in American Party Politics
Party activists have played a leading role in “conflict extension”—the polarization of the parties along multiple issue dimensions—in contemporary American politics. We argue that open nominationExpand
The Political Ecology of Opinion in Big-Donor Neighborhoods
Major campaign donors are highly concentrated geographically. A relative handful of neighborhoods accounts for the bulk of all money contributed to political campaigns. Public opinion in these eliteExpand
Who Contributes?
The changing demographic trends of voter turnout have been a focus of great debate. Nevertheless, voter turnout is only one avenue through which citizens participate in electoral politics. AlthoughExpand
By Invitation Only: The Rise of Exclusive Politics in the United States
Mobilization Only examines the shift in the United States from mobilization (the partisan method of stimulating very high voter turnout in elections) to activation -- the political variant of "nicheExpand
Issue Evolution, Political Parties, and the Culture Wars
Using the issue evolution framework, our research examines partisan polarization on several culture war issues, including pornography, environment, gun control, and gay civil rights. We look forExpand