Research on campaign spending has tried to resolve the issue of differential effects for incumbent and challenger spending. This analysis offers two new perspectives to the spending effects literature: (1) It extends the scope of this research to include gubernatorial elections, and (2) it uses job approval ratings to control for governors’ popularity. This approval measure sets a pre-campaign baseline for the expected vote that keeps campaign variables from being credited with pre-existing levels of incumbent popularity. A two-stage least squares (TSLS) analysis of two decades of gubernatorial races shows that incumbent spending (unlike challenger spending) does not have a significant effect on the vote. If incumbent spending wins little new support in the course of campaigns, generous public funding for statewide candidates will boost spending by challengers without reducing challenger competitiveness via higher incumbent spending.


Original Citation: Bardwell, Kedron. "Reevaluating Spending in Gubernatorial Races: Job Approval as a Baseline for Spending Effects." Political Research Quarterly 58, no. 1 (2005): 97-105.