Somin on Campaign Giving

Commenting on an analysis of federal campaign data showing Arizonans are more likely to give to someone they know than to a party or PAC, Professor Ilya Somin says spreading the wealth beyond the politicians alone is probably a good thing for voters.

“We wouldn’t want the candidate to be the only one that can influence public opinion,” Somin explains, saying it is important that independent groups have the ability and the money to comment on campaigns.

“You could say that if the money goes directly to candidates that’s better in some ways,” he says. “But it’s also good for independent groups to engage in political issues, too.”

Somin said that groups other than candidates play an important role in campaigns.

“It’s important to have some sort of balance between the two,” Somin notes.

In 2012 Arizonans gave 60 percent of total donations to candidates rather than to parties or PACs, representing the eighth-highest rate in the nation.

Familiarity breeds receipts: Arizonans more often give to pols than PACs,, August 19, 2013. By Xi Chen.

"Among Arizonans who gave $200 or more in the last federal election, 60 percent of their money went to candidates, according to a review of data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Another 22 percent went to political parties and 9 percent each went to political action committees or outside spending groups, the data show.

"By contrast, 48 percent of political donations nationally went directly to candidate campaigns while 16 percent went to outside spending committees, 10 percent to PACs and 26 percent to parties.

"And Arizona giving to candidates has remained relatively constant, despite changes in campaign finance law after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, which lifted limits on donations to independent political groups."

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