PACs and Election Politics


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Name ____________________________ Class _________________ Date ___________________

The Political Process

Economics and Government

PACs and Election Politics
ECONOMICS FOCUS Political action committees, or PACs, exist solely to raise and spend money in order to help elect a certain candidate to office.

As you read, note how PACs have grown in number and influence since the 1970s. They are a fixture in the American political process today.

Political action committees were invented in the 1940s by labor unions that wanted to give money to candidates they favored in elections. Campaign finance laws formally recognized PACs in the early 1970s. Since then, the variety and influence of PACs has grown rapidly. Today corporations, trade associations, and many types of interest groups have PACs as well.
In 1974 about 600 PACs gave $15 million to candidates. Ten years later, about 4,000 PACs existed, contributing some $113 million to the elections process. The number of PACs has remained relatively stable since then. However, the amount of their contributions has steadily climbed.
A PAC with at least 50 contributors may give up to $5,000 to each candidate in a primary election and another $5,000 to each candidate in a general election. PACs may also contribute $15,000 per year to a national political party and a total of $5,000 to state and local parties. Many PACs spend additional monies to help defeat candidates they oppose.

PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates, 1979–2006

Years

Total Contributions

Years

Total Contributions

1979–1980

$60,000,000

1993–1994

$189,000,000

1981–1982

$88,000,000

1995–1996

$217,000,000

1983–1984

$113,000,000

1997–1998

$220,000,000

1985–1986

$140,000,000

1999–2000

$260,000,000

1987–1988

$159,000,000

2001–2002

$282,000,000

1989–1990

$159,000,000

2003–2004

$311,000,000

1991–1992

$189,000,000

2005–2006

$141,000,000

Original content Copyright © by Holt McDougal. Additions and changes to the original content are the responsibility of the instructor.

Chapter 9

13

The Political Process

Name ____________________________ Class _________________ Date ___________________

PACs and Election Politics continued

Economics and Government

Use the data from the table to graph the increase in PAC contributions in elections from 1979–2006. Label the horizontal axis with the years given in the table. Label the vertical axis from $50,000,000 to $350,000,000 in $50,000,000 increments. Plot the amount for each election cycle and connect them to create a line graph of PAC contributions. Then answer the questions that follow.

ANALYZING ECONOMIC DATA 1. Based on the graph, between what two election cycles was the rise in PAC contributions the greatest?
____________________________________________________________________ 2. By how much did PAC contributions increase between the 2000 and 2004
presidential elections?
____________________________________________________________________ 3. Look at the text and the table. How does the growth in the number of PACs between
1974 and 2004 compare to the growth in total contributions during that same period?
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________ 4. Critical Thinking: Predict Why might some people be concerned about the influence
of PACs on elections and on the political process?
____________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

Original content Copyright © by Holt McDougal. Additions and changes to the original content are the responsibility of the instructor.

Chapter 9

14

The Political Process

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PACs and Election Politics