While the war chests in Arizona's gubernatorial primary are surging with private donations, a Barnard College political science professor is touting the benefits of Arizona's Clean Elections law that allows just about anyone, rich or poor, to run for office.
Michael G. Miller, author of the book "Subsidizing Democracy," interviewed more than 1,000 politicians seeking office to learn about how public financing systems affects political campaigns. Miller recently spoke with Vox reporter Andrew Prokop about the results.
"I really worked with these folks in-depth to determine how they were using their time, their attributes, their qualifications, and their strategic consideration," said Miller in the interview withVox.
Miller found that Arizona's Clean Election law, passed in 1998, has a considerable impact on the quality and quantity of candidates.
But before diving into Miller's findings, here's a quick rundown on Arizona's Clean Election Law.
- Eligible candidates are given enough money to run a campaign. In 2000, the subsidy amounted to $25,000, but that amount has grown with the rate of inflation, Miller said.
- To qualify, candidates must raise $5 donations, exactly $5, from a "certain number" of citizens within their district, according to the Arizona Clean Elections website.
- Accepted candidates cannot raise money from private donors of Political Action Committees (PACs), according to the website.
- Funding for clean elections campaigns does not come from the state's general fund. Instead, it comes from a "10 percent surcharge on civil and criminal fines," "civil penalties paid by candidates" and the "$5 qualifying contributions collected from participating candidates," according to the site.
Here's what Miller Found:
- Candidates using clean elections subsidies interact with voters about five hours more per week than their counterparts because they spend less time raising money.
- Voters are more likely to show up to the polls and vote because they've actually spent time with the candidates for whom they are voting.
- It's easier for an average Joe to run a "high-quality" campaign because they have more money.
- Democrats use public funds more often than Republican candidates because of political ideologies.
- There's no relationship between using clean elections funds and having more extreme ideologies.
Why was Miller so interested in Arizona? It wasn't just the Clean Election Law.
"If you look at the dynamics of the state (Arizona), it is kinda a microcosm of America in many ways and you see same kinds of things happening there as you do in the United States Congress," he said.