State > Citizen Policy Tool > RI

## State Candidate Funding Scenarios:

In almost every state in the country, most candidates raise the bulk of their campaign money from a few individual donors who give them $1,000 or more, or from non-party organizations (such as corporations and labor unions), and political parties. It doesn't have to be that way. This tool will let you experiment to see how a few changes might alter the balance of money in each of the states.

## Rhode Island

#### The following chart shows where the candidates got their money in recent elections.

*Expand for detailed explanation* Each bar tells you the percentage of the candidates' money that came from donors whose total contributions to any one candidate falls within the range indicated at the bottom of that bar. The "$100 or less" bar tells you how much came from small donors who gave any one candidate no more than $100 total, and so on. Clicking the button to the left of the chart marked "all" lets you look at the money sources for both the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial (when present) candidates and legislative candidates combined. The other buttons let you separate out the gubernatorial or legislative candidates by themselves.

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**What If You Could Make Just a Few Simple Changes?**
The next chart tells you what might happen if there were only a few simple changes.

*For full explanations and definitions, click here**.*

In every one of the options offered, we assume that anyone who gave in the real election in the chart above would continue to give. We assume they would give the same amount as they actually did, unless new contribution limits force them to stop at a lower level.

**Contribution Limits:** The first set of buttons asks: what would the percentage of receipts from each source be if the contribution limits were lower than they are now?

Thirty-eight states limit contributions to candidates. The median for states with contribution limits is $4,000 for a full election cycle in gubernatorial elections and $2,000 for the larger of a state's legislative chambers. (The medians are $6,000 and $2,000 if you exclude the twelve states with unlimited contributions.)

In these scenarios, you may choose to reduce the contribution limits to $2,000 or $5,000 per election cycle. If you select either of these buttons, we also assume that non-party organizations would be limited to giving no more than $10,000 to any one candidate over the course of a full election cycle.

Once you click on the "contribution limits" button, you will see the percentage of money the candidates receive that would have come from each set of donors -- assuming the same donors continue to give, but only up to the new limit.

For the current contribution limit in state law, see the State Facts section on the left hand side of this page. This is important to note. If a state’s contribution limit is already at or below $2,000 or $5,000 then adjusting the limit will show no effect. Similarly, some states have limits that are very close to $2,000 or $5,000 and here you will see very little effect when adjusting the limits.

**Public Matching Funds:** The second set of buttons ask, what if the state had provided matching funds to the candidates, but only for the first $50 that each donor gave? Here you have the choice of providing no matching money, or of matching the first $50 a donor gives to a candidates on a three-for-one or five-for-one basis. (New York City's public financing program provides a six-for-one match for the first $175.)

**Increased participation:** Finally, the graphs let you ask what would happen to the distribution chart of you were to persuade new people to come into the system as small donors. These buttons work a little differently from the others. There are many possible ways to encourage participation -- from new technology to political contribution refunds or tax credits. We are not asking you to prejudge the means. Rather, the button presumes a commitment to accomplishing a participation goal, whatever the means. In 2006, thirty-six states held both gubernatorial and state elections. The percentage of the state's population that gave any money at all to a candidate that year ranges from a high of about 5% (RI and MN) to lows below 1% (NY, NV, CA, FL, AL and TN). This states participation rate appears in the State Facts to the left.

In these buttons, we are asking: what if you could add enough people to the pool of donors so that 3% or 5% of the total adult population were giving. For the scenarios, we assume that each of the people were to give exactly $50. We also assume the donors are divided half and half between gubernatorial and state legislative candidates, which is approximately the division in many states today.

**Making combinations**: Finally, there is a button within each set of choices that is labeled "no change". Using that button lets you look at each of the three "what if" questions one at a time, or in any combination of changes that you may choose.