We study electoral campaigns over the long run, through the lens of campaign spend- ing and changing media technologies. We build a novel exhaustive dataset on general elections in the United Kingdom from 1857 to 2017, which includes detailed information on electoral expenditures for 69, 593 election-constituency-candidates – including detailed expenses categories –, extensive candidates’ characteristics, and constituency-level socio- demographic controls. First, we provide new insights on the history of British election- eering; we document the growing importance of material addressed directly to electors, including via digital means, and the declining role of meetings. We then estimate a pos- itive relationship between expenditures and votes, whose intensity has varied over time: it peaked in the last quarter of the XXth century, and then decreased since 2001. We link this evolution to changes in electoral competition, the conduct of campaigns – in particular the introduction of new information technologies –, and candidates’ character- istics. Estimating the changing sensitivity of electoral results to inequalities in campaign spending is of importance for campaign finance regulation.
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