We use the variation in public support for campaign finance reform (CFR) to determine factors important to collective policy preference formation.
Using a national survey, we factor analyze the latent dimensions of various reforms, and rely on an experimental design to explain the role policy narratives, cultural theory (CT), and political knowledge play in preference formation.
The reform debate groups along three dimensions: (1) strengthening limitations and regulations, (2) deregulating campaign finance, or (3) ending the dependence on private money altogether. We show policy narratives are most influential, and CT has more explanatory value, among those with higher levels of political knowledge. Certain policy narratives tend to increase support for CFR across all cultural types, including those who most oppose reforms that seek to end the dependence on private money.
As awareness of campaign finance increases, and as particular narratives become salient, we would expect increasing support for public financing, free media time, and/or public matching funds among those with higher levels of general political knowledge.