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Legislative Studies Quarterly


Does the source of campaign funds influence legislative polarization? We develop competing theoretical expectations regarding the effects of publicly-financed elections on legislative voting behavior. To test these expectations, we leverage a natural experiment in the New Jersey Assembly in which public financing was made available to a subset of members. We find that public financing exerts substantively negligible effects on roll call voting. We then find a similar result in an examination of state legislatures. We conclude that, counter to the logic of the U.S. Supreme Court, pundits, and reformers, the source of campaign funds exerts minimal influence on polarization.