Richard Hall and Molly E. Reynolds (PhD '15) will co-author a chapter, "Financing the 2016 Congressional," in the forthcoming Brookings Institution Press book, Financing the 2016 Elections (David Magleby, ed.). The book is expected to be published later this year.
For the last quarter century, party control of the U.S. House and Senate has been fiercely contested, giving every candidate and campaign finance organization strong incentives to raise and spend money. Investments by individuals, parties, and outside groups reflect this attitude, and 2016 was no exception. The 2016 contest saw the parties navigating a changing legal architecture of the campaign finance system. In the aftermath of Citizens United and other court cases, outside spending rapidly escalated. In many other ways, patterns in fundraising and spending followed recent trends, including spending gaps that heavily favored incumbents over challengers. We find, however, that the much maligned Super PAC and "dark money" expenditures tended to equalize spending between incumbents and challengers as well as between the major party candidates for open congressional seats.