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Strategy and Choice in Congressional Elections: The Role of Political Action Committees

Theodore J. Eismeier and Philip H. Pollock III
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Feb., 1986), pp. 197-213
DOI: 10.2307/2111301
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111301
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Strategy and Choice in Congressional Elections: The Role of Political Action Committees
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Abstract

The spectacular growth in the number and spending of political action committees has made this new breed of political organization an increasingly important actor in congressional elections. Indeed, the strategic use of PAC resources is an important element in the developing theory of how rational political expectations affect congressional elections. The evidence about PACs adduced in support of this theory has thus far emphasized changes in aggregate spending. Using a merged data set of Federal Election Commission records from both the 1980 and 1982 elections, the authors are able for the first time to trace the tactical shifts of individual PACs between years. The analysis provides strong support for the theory of political expectations. Predictable strategic behavior is found for PACs with different contributor motivations. The different motives, furthermore, appear to be quite durable, despite generally convergent behavior by many PACs in 1982. Yet the data also suggest that intraorganizational considerations constrain the strategic choice for some PACs, especially labor committees. Thus, the analysis reveals large disparities in the malleability of pro-Republican and pro-Democratic resources.

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