Date of Completion

Spring 4-29-2016

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dr. Paul S. Herrnson; Dr. Jennifer Sterling-Folker

Honors Major

Political Science


The campaign finance landscape has changed significantly since the enactment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and after the Citizens United v. FEC and v. FEC rulings were handed down in 2010. I examine the role of super PACs—a new type of outside spending group—(which emerged following the aforementioned court rulings) by using campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission. I compare super PAC and traditional PAC spending on four key campaign-related factors: political party, candidate status, tone of spending, and race competitiveness. The results indicate that super PACs are more active in competitive races and spend more on negative campaigning than traditional PACs, that candidate status matters most for positively toned expenditures, and that political party is not typically a significant factor in determining spending behavior.