Campaign War Chests and Challenger Quality in Senate Elections



This article presents the first comprehensive analysis of the role of war chests in U.S. Senate elections. Using data on races from 1980 to 2000, I demonstrate the effect of an incumbent senator's war chest on a campaign. War chests do not deter strong general-election challengers and have an insubstantial or insignificant effect on primary elections, challenger spending, and other electoral variables. Also, war chests are not raised in anticipation of a tough electoral battle but are instead the result of money left over from the previous campaign.