Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Mark Ecker, Honors Thesis Advisor


Campaign funds--United States--Mathematical models; Political campaigns--United States--Mathematical models;


Money in politics is the single largest threat to the democratic system in the United States. It influences everything in politics, from the candidates to the issues debated. Every American knows that running for office requires large amounts of funding, and being elected requires even more. People worry that only the wealthiest voices are being heard; of course, candidates who depend on money from wealthy donors for campaign strength would never support unfavorable policies for their donors. Clearly, money in politics threatens the core democratic principles upon which America was founded. However, few people discuss whether the money really makes a difference in elections, and much of the outstanding literature on the impact of campaign funding on election results dates back over twenty years. To make things worse, each study uses different methodologies, so their results are difficult to compare. Since these studies were published, the way that candidates finance their campaigns has completely changed. The Citizens United decision in 2010 allowed corporations and political action committees, or PACs, to play a major role in campaign funding. Still, funding is a strong predictor of election outcomes; a large amount of funds indicates campaign strength for challengers but campaign weakness for incumbents. The impact of campaign finance can depend on the source of funding. Incumbents tend to gain most from individual donations, while challengers gain the most from PAC donations. Without serious consideration of campaign finance reform, money will continue to be the primary source of campaign strength and the wealthy will continue to influence elections.

Year of Submission



Department of Mathematics

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (27 pages)



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