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date: 01 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

One of the audiences to whom political candidates must make persuasive appeals is campaign donors. US elections require private financing and are the most expensive in the democratic world. Candidates without personal wealth are, therefore, compelled to make appeals to potential donors on a regular basis. This chapter considers the barriers that low-resource candidates face in appealing to these donors to fund their campaigns and how candidates attempt to surmount these obstacles. While much attention has been given to the role of money in shaping policy outcomes, less attention has been given to how the process of raising money itself impacts candidates from the working-class. A striking aspect of US politics is the skewed class composition of its senior politicians. Not a single member of the US Senate lacks a four-year college degree, while two-thirds of Americans over the age of 25 are without degrees. This chapter argues that these facts are not unrelated, but shows that low-resource candidates do try to compensate through other bespoke, persuasive appeals to donors, especially ones which emphasize, rather than conceal, their outsider status and which appeal to non-traditional donors.

Keywords: fundraising, donors, class, representation, inequality, one-percent, low-resource candidates

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