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Uninformed Voters for Sale: Electoral Competition, Information and Interest Groups in the US

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  • Tim Wegenast
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    Abstract

    This paper analyses how certain electoral settings affect the activity of special interest groups within US state politics. The main result of cross-sectional regression analyses suggests that informed and educated voters prevent political parties from catering to special interests, diminishing the number of lobby registrations, the total amount of campaign contributions as well as groups' overall influence. Electoral competition is believed to exert a curvilinear effect on groups' importance within the political decision making process of each state. Another finding indicates that, in a situation of high electoral competition, voters' level of information plays a pivotal role in determining interest groups' activities. Parties seem to increasingly value median voter's concerns whenever the electorate is informed and political races are expected to be close. An environment of competitive elections and uninformed voters, in contrast, furthers interest groups' activity and strengthens their position within the political arena. This is explained by the rationale that, under such circumstances, politicians increasingly exchange narrowly targeted policies for campaign contributions in order to buy the votes of impressionable citizens. Copyright � 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

    Volume (Year): 63 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (05)
    Pages: 271-300

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:63:y:2010:i:2:p:271-300

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    Web page: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0023-5962

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    Cited by:
    1. Roland Hodler & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2012. "The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances," Working papers 2012/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

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