Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Andrew J. Dowdle

Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Second Committee Member

William Schreckhise


Social sciences, Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act, Campain finance, Election law, Nomination politics, Party finance, Policy evaluation, Political donor behavior


The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act increased the individual donor limit to $2,000 per candidate per election and indexed the limit for inflation every two years. The primary research question guiding this study is how has the increase in the donor limit affected donor behavior. Answering this question should allow a determination to be made about how donors have responded to the increased donor limit. Understanding how donors responded to the doubled limit is important because it provides evidence on the intersection of wealth inequality and political influence. To answer the research question this study considers how the increased donor limit has changed patterns of participation among donors. The focus is on the preprimary period of the presidential race because it is the most important period to campaign fundraising and the stage that provides the sharpest control of several important political variables given no contest is held in this period and most candidates enter in this stage but few drop out before the start of the primary and there is usually no clear frontrunner. The evaluation covers the 2000 election, representing one period before the increase went into effect, and elections of 2004, 2008, and 2012, representing three periods after the increase went into effect. Descriptive and analytic statistics are used to determine if the increased limit is leading to a distortion in the distribution of donations and widening the gap between the bottom and top donors and states. The findings of this study should provide important information about how the donors responded to the law.