Public Attention and Head-to-Head Campaign Fundraising: An Examination of U.S. Senate Elections

William Curtis Ellis, Joseph T. Ripberger, Colin Swearingen


Does public attention to political candidates impact fundraising margins in U.S. Senate elections? Applying a novel conceptualization of public attention, we examine U.S. Senate elections from 2004 through 2014 and find that increases in relative public attention relate to increases in head-to-head fundraising margins in open seat races. We conclude by asking whether or not all attention to candidates is "good" attention. Evidence from the 2006 Allen/Webb election suggests that all attention is not "good" attention. This race demonstrates that candidates can supply attention-grabbing action that increases relative public attention while stimulating exceptional losses in relative fundraising margins. Further research must clearly theorize conditions under which supplying public attention-grabbing behavior may damage political campaigns

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