The latest installment in a series that dates back half a century, Financing the 2008 Election is the definitive analysis of how campaign finance and spending shaped the historic presidential and congressional races of 2008. It explains why these records were set and what it means for the future of U.S. politics. David Magleby and Anthony Corrado have assembled a team of experts who join them in exploring the financing of the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. They provide insights into the political parties and interest groups that made campaign finance history and summarize important legal and regulatory changes that affected these elections.
Contributors: Allan Cigler (University of Kansas), Stephanie Perry Curtis (Brigham Young University), John C. Green (Bliss Institute at the University of Akron), Paul S. Herrnson (University of Maryland), Diana Kingsbury (Bliss Institute at the University of Akron), Thomas E. Mann (Brookings Institution).
Almost $450 million was spent in both the 1986 and 1988 congressional campaigns, much of it coming from wealthy contributors and political action committees (PACs). Increasing criticism of the current system will undoubtedly force Congress to keep campaign finance reform on it's legislative agenda.
Using public opinion, election and campaign spending data, extensive interviews, and a knowledge of practical politics, Magleby and Nelson examine the central issues in the campaign financing debate: the cost of congressional campaigns, financial participation by the political parties and PACs, existing and proposed limits on contributions and expenditures, public financing, and the role of the Federal Election Commission. They propose a comprehensive package of reforms that will undoubtedly serve as a guide for future legislation.
Yet competition and the need for fast responses to events often lead news organizations to misuse polls in a way that diminishes rather than enhances democracy. Polls can shape public opinion as well as describe it; they can set the news agenda and influence the coverage of political events in ways hostile to a constructive dialogue between citizens and their leaders.
In this volume, media specialist and well-known reporters provide a comprehensive survey of the problems and possibilities of polling by media organizations in the 1990s and beyond. Thomas Mann and Gary Orren analyze the strengths and weaknesses of media polls and their impact on American politics. Everett Carll Ladd and John Benson discuss the extraordinary growth of polling in news organizations for the past two decades. Kathleen Frankovic addresses the tension between the needs of news organizations for quick results and the need to preserve the standards of survey research. Henry Brady and Gary Orren examine the most serious methodological problems with news media polls. Michael Kagay explores the sources of well-publicized variability in poll findings. Michael Traugott considers the complicated question of how polls influence the public and whether their effects are benign or harmful. Finally, E. J. Dionne, Jr. examines media organizations' obsession with polls and the impact polls have on reporters.
The authors offer recommendations for improving the conduct and use of media polls so that citizens can make better informed and enlightened decisions about the public agenda.