Expression vs. Equality: The Politics of Campaign Finance Reform. By J. Tobin Grant and Thomas J. Rudolph. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2004. 144p. $59.95 cloth, $21.95 paper.
Through a series of experiments embedded in a national survey, J. Tobin Grant and Thomas J. Rudolph systematically examine attitudes toward campaign finance reform in a very interesting and compelling manner. In a thorough analysis, they examine the commitment citizens have to the competing democratic values of political equality and political expression, finding that opinion varies depending upon perceptions of whose rights are being threatened. The central thesis of the research, which is well established with a comprehensive literature review and theoretical analysis, is that public opinion on campaign finance reform is group-centric, a function of the views individuals have toward groups that are thought to be affected by the proposed reform. If individuals feel positively about a group that is seen as being threatened by the reform, they will be negatively inclined toward the reform. Conversely, if individuals view the group with suspicion or negativity, they will favor the reforms. The research represents a systematic analysis of public opinion on campaign finance reform on a nation level, examining the factors that impact opinions and the dynamic manner in which opinions are formed and maintained.