Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Despite increasing campaign-finance legislation aimed at equalizing barriers in political campaigns, a fundraising gap persists across racial/ethnic lines. In the era of modern campaigning, with the expenses of advertising and polling, among others, ample funds are necessary but not accessible to all candidates. This study addresses the relationship between candidate race/ethnicity and campaign fundraising, and the possible moderating effect of three dimensions of the state political context: state legislative professionalism, state Republican party strength, and state culture (South vs. non-South). I evaluate fundraising totals across 15 states for more than 3,000 candidates in the 2006 state legislative elections. Ultimately, the findings suggest that after controlling for other candidate characteristics, as well as for district and state context, there is a negative statistically significant relationship between candidate race/ethnicity and fundraising. In addition, the effect of race/ethnicity is moderated by two features of the state context: legislative professionalization and state culture. This study finds that nonwhite candidates continue to fundraise less than their white counterparts and that state context is important in understanding the race/ethnicity gap in campaign finance.