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Michael J. Malbin

Professor of Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Michael

Malbin's published research since 1999 has focused on money in politics in federal and state elections. Malbin was co-founder of the Washington D.C. based Campaign Finance Institute in 1999 and Executive Director from 1999 through July 2018. At that time, the Campaign Finance Institute became a division of the National Institute on Money in Politics and he remained the director of the Campaign Finance Institute division. The Campaign Finance Institute has been the nation's pre-eminent research institute specializing on money in politics in federal and state elections.


What Research Says about Donors in U.S. Elections

In the News

Michael J. Malbin quoted on small-dollar donations in the 2020 race by John Fritze and Maureen Groppe, "'Call Me Back in 45 Days': In Crowded 2020 Race, Democratic Donors Shy Away from Early Commitments" USA Today, December 28, 2018.
Michael J. Malbin quoted on the influence of ActBlue by Fredeka Schouten and David Wright, "This Small-Dollar Platform Helped Democrats Win the House. Now Republicans Are Racing to Compete" CNN, December 18, 2018.
Michael J. Malbin quoted on business leaders' conservatism by Lindsey Erdody, "Top Indiana CEOs Drop $650K on PACs, Races" Indianapolis Business Journal, November 2, 2018.
"What the Latest Campaign Finance Filings Can — and Cannot — Tell Us about the Coming Election," Michael J. Malbin, The Brookings Institution, October 24, 2018.


"Small Donor Empowerment Depends on the Details: Comparing Matching Fund Programs in New York and Los Angeles" (with Michael Parrott). The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics 15, no. 2 (2017): 219-250.

Finds that New York City's campaign finance matching fund program increased the number, proportional role, and diversity of small donors in city council elections but that the Los Angeles program was substantially less effective. Concludes with a discussion of major arguments for and against increasing small donor participation as a goal for public policy.

"Independent Spending in State Elections, 2006-2010: Vertically Networked Political Parties were the Real Story, Not Business" (with Keith E. Hamm, Jaclyn J. Kettler, and Brendan Glavin). The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics 12, no. 2 (2014): 305-328.

Examines independent spending in state elections before and after the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC.  Finds that the decision did not have much of a direct effect on business spending, despite public expectations.

"Three Policy Paths after Citizens United: A Critical Review Essay" Tulsa Law Review 52, no. 3 (2017): 537-552.

Reviews Robert E. Mutch's Buying the Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform, Raymond J. La Raja & Brian F. Schaffner's Campaign Finance and Political Polarization: When Purists Prevail,  and Richard L. Hasen's Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, The Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections.

"CFI's Guide to Money in Federal Elections: 2016 in Historical Context," (with Brendan Glavin), The Campaign Finance Institute, 2018.

Aims to be a handbook of consistent information available to guide them through what the precedents have been for money in federal elections.

"McCutcheon Could Lead to No Limits for Political Parties — With What Implications for Parties and Interest Groups?" New York University Law Review 89 (2014): 92-104.

Explores some of the likely interplay between political parties and non-party organizations after the Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Argues that even though the holding in McCutcheon may have been about aggregate contribution limits, the reasoning directly challenges the rationale for base contribution limits.