Democracy

Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

Tying the Hands of States

States have long been the laboratories for innovative public policy, particularly in the realm of environmental and consumer protection. State and local legislatures, smaller and often more nimble than the federal government, can develop and test novel policies to address problems identified by local constituents. If a certain policy works, other states can try it. If the policy fails, the state or local government can quickly modify the policy without having affected residents in all 50 states. Success at the state level then often gives rise to federal policy.

Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Contribution Limits And Competitiveness

For years, academics, political theorists, and campaign finance reformers have debated the causal relationship between campaign contribution limits and the outcome of elections. Some argue that limiting campaign contributions amounts to "incumbent protection;" others contend that limits make challengers more competitive. This study is the first of its kind to comprehensively examine the states with contribution limits and empirically measure changes in competitiveness. Based on an analysis of 30,000 elections in 45 states, this study found that campaign contribution limits slightly favor challengers by reducing the incumbent margin of victory.

Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Election, Inc.

The presence of corporate money in California politics is one of the biggest challenges facing our democracy. The federal government has long realized that corporations, as fundamentally economic institutions, have no place in the political process. Corporate contributions to federal candidates were banned in 1907. Since then, 21 states (Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) have joined the federal government in this judgment. Unfortunately, California has not yet done so, and continues to allow direct corporate contributions to candidates and parties.

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