Live Online Book Forum

Campaign Finance and American Democracy: What the Public Really Thinks and Why It Matters

(University of Chicago Press, 2020)

January 12, 2021 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST

Live Online

Featuring David M. Primo, Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor, Professor of Political Science and Business Administration, University of Rochester; Jeffrey D. Milyo, Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Missouri; moderated by John Samples, Vice President, Cato Institute.

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In recent decades, and particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, lawmakers and other elites have told Americans that stricter campaign finance laws are needed to improve faith in the elections process, increase trust in the government, and counter cynicism toward politics. Not surprisingly, the next administration and the new Congress will kick off with proposed legislation to regulate campaign finance.

David M. Primo and Jeffrey D. Milyo argue that politicians and the public alike should reconsider this conventional wisdom in light of surprising and comprehensive empirical evidence to the contrary. Primo and Milyo probe original survey data to determine Americans’ sentiments on the role of money in politics, what drives these sentiments, and why they matter. What have the authors found? While many individuals support the idea of reform, they are also skeptical that reform would successfully limit corruption, which Americans believe stains almost every fiber of the political system. Moreover, support for campaign finance restrictions is deeply divided along party lines, reflecting the polarization of our times. Ultimately, Primo and Milyo contend that American attitudes toward money in politics reflect larger fears about the health of American democracy, fears that will not be allayed by campaign finance reform.

Please join us January 12 from noon to 1 p.m. for a refreshingly contrarian discussion of American politics and campaign finance.

Campaign Finance and American Democracy: What the Public Really Thinks and Why It Matters

Primo and Milyo probe original survey data to determine Americans’ sentiments on the role of money in politics, what drives these sentiments, and why they matter. What Primo and Milyo find is that while many individuals support the idea of reform, they are also skeptical that reform would successfully limit corruption, which Americans believe stains almost every fiber of the political system.

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