This paper investigates how the acceptance of corporate PAC donations to fund a political campaign effects voter perceptions of a candidate’s leadership and integrity traits. Past research shows that voters tend to view large donations towards political campaigns negatively, perceiving the money as a way to influence policies and agendas—regardless of whether it actually does. Many voters also perceive the government as being greatly influenced by a few big interests with deep pockets. I argue that a candidate’s leadership and integrity perceptions will be depressed when voters learn that the candidate accepts corporate PAC donations to fund their political campaign, especially when the act is framed as a fairness Moral Foundations violation. Analyzing survey experiment data using mediation analysis, and counter to my hypothesis, I find that voters actually had higher integrity perceptions of a candidate after viewing information that the candidate accepts corporate PAC donations framed as a Moral Foundations violation to fund their campaign. Knowledge of taking corporate PAC donations did not affect leadership evaluations. Overall, I attribute these findings to the possibility that money in politics has become so normalized to voters that learning of corporate PAC donation acceptance does not trigger much response, despite voters’ broad disapproval for how campaigns are funded in general.


Bos, Angie


Political Science


American Politics


Super PACs, Corporate PAC Donations, Moral Foundations Theory, Trait Evaluations, Campaign Finance

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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