Spinning Straw Into Gold: Soft Money and U.S. House Elections
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXI: 409-24

Our understanding of congressional campaign finance and party behavior is incomplete because scholars have not yet examined the millions spent in soft money by the national parties. This analysis of soft-money spending shows that federalism and campaign finance regulations provide both opportunities and constraints that influence the parties' ability to turn soft-money "straw" into hard-money "gold." A party's level of hard-money wealth significantly shapes how it spends soft money and helps explain why the parties pursue different strategies. The analysis suggests that the parties play a larger role in congressional campaign finance than has been previously reported, since parties spend soft money in ways that can benefit House candidates.