In the process of searching for a research question that has the possibility of gaining positive results one must find a dependent variable in addition to several independent variables that might be a direct cause or a factor in the dependent variable. In observing major political elections throughout my life I have noticed a recurring trend. In many elections one candidate outspends their opponent in an attempt to gain victory. I intend to set up a research design to determine whether independent variables concerning campaign contributions have an effect on the outcome of elections.
As campaign finance reform remains a hot topic in congress with legislation such as the McCain-Feinghold Bill, it is important to determine if campaign spending affects the outcome of elections. If the results this question indicate a direct relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable then legislative restrictions might necessary. If campaign
spending does not factor in on the outcome of elections, then maybe there is nothing wrong with a candidate outspending their opponent.
Several articles and books have been written on this subject that I have found useful. According to Ruth S. Jones(1981) These sentiments are often supplemented by a belief that the only way a minority party can win is by outspending opponents. Throughout the article Jones focuses in on this trend. If this assumption is true it would indicate that outspending an incumbent is necessary to gain office.
The Committee for Economic Development found similar results(1968), Candidates with access to vast personal or family fortunes have a substantial advantage in the pursuit of high office. This means that a wealthy candidate can in essence buy a victory in an election. This committees research has provided several facts toward my research plan.
On the contrary, in an article by Gary C. Jacobsen(1978),spending by challengers has a substantial impact on election outcomes, whereas spending by incumbents has relatively little effect. These findings add another
Wrinkle in the process of framing my research design by forcing me to differentiate if spending by incumbents and challengers has a different impact. This article refers to a number of recent studies that found that there is a relationship between how much money is spent and how well a candidate does on election day.
Throughout the twentieth century events have occurred that indicate that campaign spending in some instances factored in on the results of elections. Ross K. Baker(1989) revealed that in the 1940 congressional campaign after it appeared that the democrats were in danger of losing the house, Lyndon B. Johnson, then a junior congressman from Texas raised substantial amounts of money from several oil companies for the democratic party, resulting in a landslide of democratic congressional victories. This shows that immense pending by a political party can earn them victories. I feel that the research question that I am pursuing is worth finding an answer to because of the large amount of literature written on the topic, other political scientists have found this an important subject.
The dependent variable that I am going to use is the
outcome of a sample of major election results. The sample population that I would use to answer my research question would be a random sample of one hundred and fifty election outcomes in the United States Senate starting with the year 1960. There are a few reasons why I have chosen these particular elections. First of all, 1960 is a good starting point because that was the year of the famous debate between Kennedy and Nixon, the first of which that was televised. I see this as the year when television and subsequently the news media starting playing a major role in elections. Additionally, by using the U.S senate I will be able to get an accurate view of the entire countries voting pattern with each state getting equal representation.
There are several independent variables that I have developed in order to aid in ascertaining an answer to my research question. The first independent variable that I developed, and the most influential, is the candidate that outspent their opponent in my sample of elections. This is the most important because it would definitely indicate in my data whether a trend exists between