Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Andrew D. McNitt


The use of money in congressional elections will be the principal issue of this thesis. The money decides who will mount a serious contest and who will not. In determining the effect of money in congressional races, it is hypothesized that campaign spending has a much greater effect on the challenger's chances of winning than it does on the incumbent's.

One of the many implications of this thesis is that people and groups determine how well a candidate will do on election day. Such topics as long term trends in the House, congressional competition, voting behavior, conservative and liberal political action groups and why people contribute to their congressional candidates are examined. The different methods that congressional incumbents use to fend off well-financed and executed challenges against their seats are examined.

In the final chapter, a statistical analysis is employed which updates Gary C. Jacobson's multivariate analysis on congressional spending. Using his methodology, 209 congressional districts in the 1980 election are analyzed. The results obtained are generally consistent with those of Jacobson. Challenger's expenditures are found to be the most important in determining the outcome of an election. Incumbents gauge their spending to that of the challenger. In addition, the challenger's party strength is an important factor affecting election results. However, the results of this study indicate a smaller increase in the challenger's vote due to an increase in spending than does Jacobson's study.