financing the 2020 election book cover


Financing the 2020 Election

John C. Green, Molly E. Reynolds
Release Date: September 1, 2023

Much has changed in the sixty years since the 1960 election, but every four years, readers have been able to count on a single volume to provide a detailed examination of federal campaign finance. Financing the 2020 Election is the latest in this series, providing a full picture of raising and spending by campaigns, parties, and outside actors—all in an election cycle both disrupted and shaped by a global pandemic and a polarizing president at the top of the ticket.

Edited by Molly E. Reynolds and John C. Green and Molly Reynolds, the book draws on detailed data from the Federal Election Commission and analysis by a range of campaign finance experts. The chapters provide both overall context for the landscape of campaign finance regulation in 2020 and examine a different aspect of the 2020 cycle, including the presidential contest; congressional races; and the role of the political parties. A concluding chapter places the entire campaign in context and offers suggestions for reform.

Together, the analysis in the volume gives readers a single source for a complete picture of how the 2020 elections were financed—and how those dynamics fit into the broader landscape of American politics.

Praise for Financing the 2020 Election

In Financing the 2020 Election, Molly Reynolds, John Green, and other experts, provide a detailed and data rich examination of how candidates, parties, interest groups and individuals spent money to influence the election outcome. The 2020 contest saw a surge in limited and disclosed contributions but also unlimited and sometimes undisclosed spending, especially in competitive contests. The scope of this volume permits the reader to understand this complicated landscape. As with prior volumes in this series, the book also assesses prospects for reform.

— David B. Magleby, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University

Financing the 2020 Election is a worthy addition to the venerable series Herbert E. Alexander began in 1960. I raise my glass in hearty congratulations to the editors, Molly Reynolds and John Green, to the new and repeat contributors, and to OpenSecrets for providing the data. They have covered the ground well. Anyone with a professional interest in U.S. elections will want to consult this volume regularly – not only for its information and analysis of one election, but for placing the election in a consistent context, as well as providing a new baseline for looking ahead. Salut!

— Michael J. Malbin, Professor (emeritus) of political science, University at Albany (SUNY), Co-founder and executive director (retired), Campaign Finance Institute


John C. Green is distinguished professor of political science and emeritus director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, University of Akron. He has written extensively on American campaign finance, political parties, religion, and politics. He is editor of The State of the Parties: The Changing Role of American Politics Parties (2022), now in its ninth edition, and coauthor of Secular Surge (2021). Molly E. Reynolds is senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings Institution. She studies Congress, with an emphasis on congressional rules and procedure, the congressional budget process, and congressional reform. She is the author of the book Exceptions to the Rule: The Politics of Filibuster Limitations in the U.S. Senate (2017), which explores creation, use, and consequences of the budget reconciliation process and other procedures that prevent filibusters in the U.S. Senate.