Can you explain the difference between 'hard' and 'soft' money contributions. I am trying to teach this to a group of ninth graders without much luck.
'Hard' money is contributed directly to a candidate. It is regulated by law and monitored by the Federal Election Commission. Individuals can give no more than $2,500 to each candidate or candidate committee per election.
'Soft' money is contributed to the Republican and Democratic National Committees, and to the party committees in each state. 'Soft' contributions are not as heavily regulated. The parties may use such money to promote candidates or finance party projects, such as political conventions.
For more information, look at the Federal Election Commission website.
—The Fact Monster