Date of this Version



Matthew Levendusky


corruption, incumbency advantage, congress, congressional elections, incumbents, fundraising, spending


The definition of corruption currently used by the United States judicial system for congresspeople is very stringent, requiring full knowledge of exchanging money for legislative favors in order to convict. However, the increasing amount of outside money in congressional elections suggests that the environment is ripe for a quid pro quo exchange. This is especially true for incumbents, who have an established, built-in advantage favoring reelection and receive the majority of outside spending. To investigate whether there exists the potential for a quid pro quo, I look at incumbents fundraising and expenditure data in 2010 and 2014, after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. I find that incumbents strategically take advantage of incumbency benefits to build war chests of savings and scare off higher quality challengers. This implies a level of integration with political elites and wealthy donors that suggests a quid pro quo between the two sides.



Date Posted: 06 May 2016


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