Paul S. Herrnson and Justin H. Kirkland
This chapter argues that to accurately gauge the impact of political parties on elections, it is necessary to look beyond traditional party committees and consider these organizations’ impact on the thousands of other groups that participate in the financing of campaigns. Using social network analysis and federal campaign finance data, the chapter demonstrates the existence of two distinctive hierarchical extended party networks, each comprising formal party organizations, campaign committees associated with members of Congress and congressional candidates, and PACs allied with one party. It also provides evidence suggesting party organizations’ influence over hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions and expenditures that flow within their networks. The chapter’s results have implications for party and interest group development and behavior, as well as legislative and electoral politics.