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Campaign Finance: Timing and Its Torments
Unformatted Document Text:  These signs vary from one type of donor to the other, but a candidate’s past fund- raising success does seem to set future fundraising prospects. Sometimes donors even appear to avoid giving money to candidates who have already received it from a given source. It is difficult to find patterns in these numbers, and it is possible that some of the results are driven by a small number of campaigns that have received large amounts of money. Nonetheless, it does appear that donors generally respond to past donations from others like themselves: individuals to individuals, labor PACs to labor PACs, business PACs to business PACs, and so on. Beyond this finding, there also seems to be a tendency for donors to avoid candidates who have received a large amount of money from parties. We cannot offer an explanation for this result, but future research might uncover a mechanism. In short, while some donors are more likely to give money early, all donors respond to the dynamics of the campaign when deciding to give, especially signals from other donors like themselves. Donors do not appear to give to a candidate just because that candidate seems promising. Of course, we do not have any specific measures of ideology. A promising candidate might receive money from sympathetic groups before demonstrating general viability. But we suspect this dynamic is highly contingent and unpredictable, and leaves many promising candidates struggling to prove their merit even to donors who ought to support them on policy-related grounds. Conclusions In this paper, we suggested a general framework for thinking about the timing of donations to U.S. House campaigns. Different types of donors should be more willing to

Authors: McGhee, Eric. and La Raja, Raymond.
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These signs vary from one type of donor to the other, but a candidate’s past fund-
raising success does seem to set future fundraising prospects. Sometimes donors even
appear to avoid giving money to candidates who have already received it from a given
source. It is difficult to find patterns in these numbers, and it is possible that some of the
results are driven by a small number of campaigns that have received large amounts of
money. Nonetheless, it does appear that donors generally respond to past donations from
others like themselves: individuals to individuals, labor PACs to labor PACs, business
PACs to business PACs, and so on. Beyond this finding, there also seems to be a
tendency for donors to avoid candidates who have received a large amount of money
from parties. We cannot offer an explanation for this result, but future research might
uncover a mechanism.
In short, while some donors are more likely to give money early, all donors respond
to the dynamics of the campaign when deciding to give, especially signals from other
donors like themselves. Donors do not appear to give to a candidate just because that
candidate seems promising. Of course, we do not have any specific measures of
ideology. A promising candidate might receive money from sympathetic groups before
demonstrating general viability. But we suspect this dynamic is highly contingent and
unpredictable, and leaves many promising candidates struggling to prove their merit even
to donors who ought to support them on policy-related grounds.
Conclusions
In this paper, we suggested a general framework for thinking about the timing of
donations to U.S. House campaigns. Different types of donors should be more willing to


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