Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Prof. E. Scott Adler


Can public campaign financing produce meaningful gains in competition within state legislative elections? A number of studies have confronted this question by employing a multitude of analytical techniques. This analysis adds to that body of work by taking a comparative approach that utilizes two distinct measures of competition in order to gauge the success of six different public financing programs in promoting a competitive atmosphere in state elections from 1994 to 2010. I find that the success of a public financing regime is entirely context dependent. Full funding programs do best in promoting competition in states with highly professionalized legislatures while partial funding programs tend to succeed in states with lower levels of professionalism. As a result, public financing should not be viewed as a singular solution to any competition deficit in U.S. elections. However, these arrangements can help to bolster competition in state legislative races when applied in the correct context.