Document Type



Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Forthcoming


The legal literature on campaign finance law and the political science literature on how and why interest groups mobilize use different methodologies to get at overlapping issues. This review integrates some of these insights to better understand the relationship between interest group participation in elections and changes in campaign finance law. The post-Citizens United world of law created some regulatory vacuums that only some groups tried to take advantage of. For example, little corporate money found its way into SuperPACs or groups engaging in independent electoral advocacy. We argue that understanding interest groups’ objectives of using contributions to candidates to obtain access, on the one hand, or using independent expenditures to install friendly candidates in office, on the other, is key to analyzing how interest groups respond to legal developments. We also argue that while interest group participation in elections increased in 2012, the party centric federal election system was largely resilient to increased interest group mobilizations highlighting the difficulties with the replacement-oriented strategy.

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