"Inside Campaign Finance" by Frank J.              Sorauf

Inside Campaign Finance Myths and Realities Frank J. Sorauf

Publication date:
27 Apr 1994
Yale University Press
318 pages: 216 x 140mm

The issues surrounding money in American elections are continually controversial. How much does money affect the outcome of elections? Do those who help finance candidates exert undue influence in the making of public policy? In this landmark book, one of America’s most distinguished political scientists explores the dynamics and consequences of campaign finance in America and explodes many myths about this widely debated subject.


Frank J. Sorauf provides balanced and informative commentary on such critical issues in campaign financing as:

- the growing problems of regulating American campaign finance under the post-Watergate legislation of 1974;

- the forces that affect the supply of money available for campaigning, from economic conditions to the competitiveness of elections;

- the increasing power of incumbent candidates in the two-way exchange between candidates and contributors;

- political learning and the search for ways to avoid the laws on campaign finance;

- the myths and realities about the role and influence of PACs;

- the vanishing funds for public funding of the presidential campaigns;

- the new middlemen and brokers (e.g., the case of Charles Keating);

- the major options for reform: private versus public funding;

- the political deadlock over reform: parties, public opinion, and the interests of incumbents;

- the possibility of new levels of competition and spending in 1992.


Sorauf argues that the American system of campaign financing has become increasingly stable and institutionalized during the last sixteen years, and that the major players in the system—PACs, individual fund-raisers, party committees, and incumbent candidates—now behave in fairly predictable ways. His book is a fresh and persuasive account of the importance and the limits of money as a base of political influence in the United States.

Frank J. Sorauf, Regents’ Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, is the author of many books and articles.

Winner of the 1993 Richard F. Fenno Award given by the APSA

"Campaign finance reform will be the subject of a great deal of public jousting during the next few years. This book by Frank Sorauf is the best recent analysis of the evolution of campaign finance and its possible reform."?David R. Mayhew

"Inside Campaign Finance is important reading for both reformers and defenders of the system. Dr. Sorauf has revealed, carefully and completely, not only the realities, but also the practical and political barriers to revision of that system."?William Frenzel, Brookings Institution

"Simply brilliant! Would-be campaign-finance reformers should read this treatise, cogitate a while, and then retire to the drawing board."?Charls E. Walker

"At last, an objective, thorough, knowledgeable and comprehensive look at the controversial subject of campaign finance. Few issues in American politics have been surrounded by as much distortion, misconception, wrongheaded conventional wisdom and stubborn adherence to dogma as that of campaign finance and its reform. Frank Sorauf has done the near impossible?shedding real and fair-minded light on the issue in a comprehensible and readable form. There ought to be a law requiring every lawmaker to read this book before introducing a new campaign reform bill; every editorial writer in the country to read it before writing an editorial on campaign finance; and every pundit, public interest group official, pac manager and lobbyist to read Inside Campaign Finance before commenting on the subject."?Norman J. Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute

"There are four elements necessary in a campaign: the candidate, the organization, the issues, and, most important, finance. This book gives you a good insight on how campaigns are financed."?Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr., former Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives

"A rigorously revisionist . . . view of the supporting role money has played in American political campaigns since Watergate-instigated modification of the electoral regulatory regime. Drawing on the wealth of data available from the Federal Election Commission, Sorauf challenges a considerable body of conventional wisdom. . . . An illuminating report on an aspect of US politics that seems fated to generate more heat than light. . . . Evenhanded."?Kirkus Reviews

"Next time someone tries to fill your ear with the alleged inequities and iniquities of American campaign finance, tell him or her to put a lid on it, read Frank Sorauf's newly published Inside Campaign Finance, and come back later for a more informed and balanced discussion."?Charls E. Walker, Roll Call

"Political science at its best. . . . A sweeping and masterful account of the role of money in American elections. The book is vintage Sorauf?splendidly written, rooted in data and history, connected to important questions about politics and governance, and sober in its discussions of reform."?Theodore J. Eismeier, American Political Science Review

"Sorauf has provided a book that is comprehensive, detailed, and provocative. It represents an important addition to the literature on money and politics and deserves to be read by academics, journalists, and politicos alike."?Christopher Wlezien, Social Science Quarterly

"A comprehensive, thoughtful, and often provocative analysis."? David Adamany, Political Science Quarterly

"Sound scholarship presented in a readable form. . . . Sorauf has made a valuable contribution to this debate and the literature on campaign finance. . . . An excellent book."?Donald A. Gross, Journal of Politics

"As a study of the ways donations have, or have not, affected elections, legislation, or executive behavior, Inside Campaign Finance provides a bracing breeze of realism to an overheated debate."?Robert D. Schulzinger, Annals of American Academy of Political & Social Science

"Full of sound information and good judgment about the role of money in contemporary electioneering."?Everett Carll Ladd, The Christian Science Monitor

"The book's basic message is right on target: in order to improve the campaign finance system, you have to understand how it works and why it works as it does. Sorauf presents a lucid description of the evolution of the campaign finance system, disposes of the popular myths about it, and offers restrained and balanced suggestions about what can be done. His book will be widely read and will help to shape future policy debates on campaign financing."?Gary C. Jacobson