CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: August 11, 1999
UI study: Level of campaign finance signals potential
voter support for candidates
IOWA CITY, Iowa Voters can look to campaign
contribution levels as signals to see which candidates in the 2000 presidential
race have the best chance of winning, according to a University of Iowa study.
With Texas Gov. George W. Bush raising $36 million
in the first half of 1999, this huge level of financial support may mean that
he has the support to win the Republican presidential nomination, according
to Tom Rietz, associate professor of finance at the UI Henry B. Tippie College
In his study "Campaign Finance Levels as Coordinating
Signals in Three-Way Experimental Elections," Rietz says that campaign financing
levels can inform voters about the degree of support that a candidate has
with other voters. The study also suggests that political parties should rally
their support around one candidate to be most effective.
"A party can only win if they coordinate their supporters
behind a single candidate. If a party is split, then it's a sure loss," Rietz
Used with other pre-election information such as poll
results, groups of voters can use campaign finance levels as coordinating
signals to see which candidates might win, according to the study.
"Campaign contributions show people that people embrace
candidates not only in their words but in their deeds. The level of contributions
helps people identify the front runners, so that they dont waste their
votes on a candidate who is behind," Rietz said.
Rietz co-authored the paper with Roger Meyerson and
Robert Weber from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern
University. It was published last year in the journal Economics and Politics.
In the experimental study, the professors
used 84 students who contributed money to candidates of their choice and voted
in a simulated three-party election. To encourage their interest in making
strategic decisions, students were paid cash based on which candidate won
the mock elections. In two scenarios, the students were given poll results
or campaign finance level information and, in a third scenario, they voted
without any poll or financial information.
Without the information, majority voters typically
failed to coordinate behind a single preferred candidate, and a third party
candidate frequently won without getting the majority vote. But with the campaign
finance information, the students could coordinate, electing the majority
preferred candidate who had raised the most money. In many cases, they voted
for a majority candidate that was their second choice after hearing the unfavorable
information about their first choice.
"The students didn't waste votes on candidates who
were in the minority. If it looked like the candidate would lose, the students
turned to the candidate who they thought would win," Rietz said.
Rietz may be contacted at (319) 335-0856 or email
The study can also be downloaded in an Adobe Acrobat file from http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/finance/faculty/rietz/voting4.pdf.