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Study Notes

Unit 3 Essay Example: "Campaign finance reform in the United States has been effective. Discuss"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note contains the key terms that you would need to include if you chose to answer this question, along with 10 great examples that you could use to support your arguments.

So, before having a go at answering the question, make sure you can explain what each of the following terms mean:

  • Elections
  • Donors
  • Finance Regulations
  • Transparency
  • Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
  • McCain-Feingold Act
  • Federal Election Commission
  • Federal Election Campaign Act
  • Federal Election Campaign Act (Amended)
  • Political Action Committees
  • Super PACs
  • Donation Limits
  • Buckley v Valeo
  • Citizens United v FEC
  • Matched Funding
  • Federal Grant

Contemporary Examples

Campaign finance reform has been effective

  1. In 2008, the Obama campaign made up most of their war chest through donations from individuals of $250 or less
  2. In 2008, 527 groups did not spend as much due to rules surrounding donations coming as hard money.
  3. 57% of individual donations to the Obama campaign in 2012 were made up of contributions under $200

Campaign finance reform has not been effective

  1. Provisions with reform legislation have been overturned in the Supreme Court Case, Citizens United v FEC 2010
  2. Super PACs in 2012 managed to raise $828 million and spend over ½ billion dollars on the campaign.
  3. In 2008, Obama declined federal funding for the General Election, whereas McCain did not, meaning Obama outspent McCain by 2:1

Historical Examples

Campaign finance reform has been effective

  1. In 2003 the case of McConnell v FEC, the Court upheld many of the provisions of campaign finance legislation.
  2. In 2004, Bush and Kerry kept within the federally mandated limits after using matched funding agreements for the General Election i.e. after accepting the party’s nomination

Campaign finance reform has not been effective

  1. Buckley v Valeo 1976 struck down many of the provisions in the Federal Election Campaign Act as unconstitutional.
  2. Buckley v Valeo 1976 also changed the make up of the Federal Election Commission

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