In particular, Wednesday's decision voided the overall federal limit on individuals' contributions — $123,200 in 2013 and 2014, broken down as $48,600 to all candidates combined and $74,600 to all party committees and political action committees in total. Limitations on the amounts a donor may give an individual candidate or committee remain in effect.
Republicans and Democrats alike said that on its own, the decision does not inherently give either major political party an advantage.
Fred Malek, a veteran Republican fundraiser, said one likely effect would be to widen the number of competitive races, since donors will be free to spread their money more widely.
John Jordan, the CEO of a California winery and a wealthy Republican donor, said: "I'll bet you a lot of money it won't impact the dynamics of overall spending. Maybe you can write more $2,600 checks. But even if you wrote a check for every race that still isn't that big."
Wade Randlett, a California-based Democratic donor, said he didn't expect the ruling to have a great influence on "ideological" donors who only support members of one party. But he said contributors seeking to influence specific legislation would now have an incentive to donate to a broad range of lawmakers on a specific committee or involved with a certain issue. "You can give to anybody on both sides who has any relevance over your issue," he said.
Only 646 out of millions of donors in the election cycle of 2011-12 gave the now-defunct legal maximum, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The ruling will "mean there will be much greater emphasis by the campaigns and the parties on those donors with the biggest checkbooks who can make those very large contributions," said Bob Biersack, who works for the Center and is a 30-year veteran of the Federal Election Commission.