Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

A Study on the Impact of Campaign Finance, Political Capital and Gender on Electoral Performance*

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

A Study on the Impact of Campaign Finance, Political Capital and Gender on Electoral Performance*

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Who gets more votes and why? In looking for the reasons that explain electoral success, the academic literature has drawn attention to the importance of political finance, meaning the funding of election campaigns. The nature of the relation between money and electoral success has stirred the interest of political scientists ever since systematic data on campaign finance have become available. Researchers have analyzed the relation between money and votes, having identified specific patterns, as in the work by Jacobson (1978) on how political finance affects incumbents and challengers differently and that by Coate (2004) on the informational value of electoral expenditures1. On the other hand, the literature also points to multidirectional causal relations, since money may yield votes, yet the expectation of future voting may drive donations, while both- donations and votes - may result from characteristics of candidates and donors (STRATMAN, 2005). This article analyzes the impact of campaign finance on electoral success.

The literature also dwells on the role of other factors influencing electoral success, either directly or indirectly, via campaign finance patterns. In this article we focus on two of these factors: incumbency and gender.

The outcome of prior elections is an important factor for success in the next election. Those who succeeded in previous elections are more likely to do well in the next election. This finding might express a relation of cause and effect - successful current incumbency leads to positive outcomes in the following election - or might be traced back to a single common cause - both outcomes stem from the same characteristics of candidates which impact on both elections. In any case, the high rate of incumbent reelection bids expresses an element of inertia which is a characteristic of contemporary representative democracies, as noted by Norris & Inglehart (2003). Those who have joined politics are bound to stay in politics. In this article our interest in the candidates' track record builds on the assumption that electoral capital can mediate the relation between money and electoral success (JACOBSON, 1978).

Lastly, the relation between gender and electoral success has gained salience in more recent publications. The search for factors accounting for the low presence of women in legislative Lower Houses - 20% on average worldwide, 8.6% in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies2 - includes, for instance, political culture, as women have developed their own pattern of political engagement (COFFÉ & BOLZENDAHL, 2010) and political values (INGLEHART & NORRIS, 2000). Other approaches point to institutional matters, such as the electoral system and the central role of political parties (HTUN, 2005). From the perspective of the institutionalist approach, a key question concerns the gender quotas that have been adopted by some countries as a means to increase women's representation. Several recent papers have identified campaign finance as an additional bottleneck for the performance of women candidates at the polls3. Our interest in the gender factor stems from the question raised previously: Beyond analyzing the importance of money for electoral performance, we focus on the interaction effect. We wish to know if money matters more for women candidates than for their male competitors.

Therefore, in this article we will discuss the relation between political finance and electoral performance, as well as the mediating role played by electoral capital and candidate gender on this relation. We focus on the 2010 elections for federal and state deputy and base our inquiry on data disclosed by the Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE, the Brazilian electoral management body)4. We divide the article into four sections, in addition to this introduction. First, we conduct a brief review of the literature that relates electoral performance to the three elements mentioned above. …

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