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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

11 - Campaign Finance Deregulation and the Hyperpolarization of Presidential Nominations in the Super PAC Era


By virtually every measure, American politics are more polarized today along political party lines than they have been in decades. In Congress, Republicans and Democrats are more sharply differentiated and internally homogeneous than they have been since the late-nineteenth century. This polarization has occurred in both houses of Congress and mirrors similar trends at the state level and among executive officers throughout American politics. The presidential nomination process is no exception. We live in a time of “hyperpolarization.”

Campaign finance may be partly to blame for modern hyperpolarization. Although today’s levels of partisan polarization began building long ago, the deregulation of campaign finance under the Roberts Court has likely accelerated the ongoing process of polarization even further. Deregulation of campaign finance permitted wealthy donors to channel more money into presidential elections and gave them greater influence over the political process.

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