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Media markets, special interests, and voters

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  • Fergusson, Leopoldo

Abstract

This paper examines the role of mass media in countering special interest group influence. I use the concentration of campaign contributions from Political Action Committees to proxy for special interests' capture of US Senate candidates from 1980 to 2002, and compare the reaction of voters to increases in concentration in two different types of media markets: in-state media markets and out-of-state media markets. Unlike in-state media markets, out-of-state markets focus on neighboring states' politics and elections. Thus, if citizens punish political capture, increases in concentration of special interest contributions to a particular candidate should reduce his vote share in in-state counties relative to the out-of-state counties, where the candidate receives less coverage. I find that a one-standard deviation increase in concentration of special interest contributions to incumbents reduces their vote share by about 0.5 to 1.5percentage points in in-state counties relative to the out-of-state counties. Robustness checks suggest that these results are not driven by omitted Senator characteristics or by differences between in-state and out-of-state counties along dimensions other than the media environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Fergusson, Leopoldo, 2014. "Media markets, special interests, and voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 13-26.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:109:y:2014:i:c:p:13-26
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.10.007
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-188, July.
    2. Nordin, Mattias, 2015. "Local Television, Citizen Knowledge and Political Accountability: Evidence from the U.S. Senate," Working Paper Series 2015:5, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    3. Laura Bianchini & Federico Revelli, 2013. "Green Polities: Urban Environmental Performance and Government Popularity," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(1), pages 72-90, March.
    4. Thomas Bassetti & Filippo Pavesi, 2017. "Electoral Contributions And The Cost Of Unpopularity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(4), pages 1771-1791, October.
    5. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Horacio A. Larreguy & John Marshall & James M. Snyder, Jr., 2014. "Revealing Malfeasance: How Local Media Facilitates Electoral Sanctioning of Mayors in Mexico," NBER Working Papers 20697, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Elections; Interest groups; Media; Campaign finance;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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