IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v95y2011i7p587-611.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Votes or money? Theory and evidence from the US Congress

Author

Listed:
  • Bombardini, Matilde
  • Trebbi, Francesco

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between the size of interest groups in terms of voter representation and the interest group's campaign contributions to politicians. We uncover a robust hump-shaped relationship between the voting share of an interest group and its contributions to a legislator. This pattern is rationalized in a simultaneous bilateral bargaining model where the larger size of an interest group affects the amount of surplus to be split with the politician (thereby increasing contributions), but is also correlated with the strength of direct voter support the group can offer instead of monetary funds (thereby decreasing contributions). The model yields simple structural equations that we estimate at the district level employing data on individual and PAC donations and local employment by sector. This procedure yields estimates of electoral uncertainty and politicians' effectiveness as perceived by the interest groups. Our approach also implicitly delivers a novel method for estimating the impact of campaign spending on election outcomes: we find that an additional vote costs a politician on average $145.

Suggested Citation

  • Bombardini, Matilde & Trebbi, Francesco, 2011. "Votes or money? Theory and evidence from the US Congress," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 587-611.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7:p:587-611
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.11.018
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272710001787
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.11.018?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2007. "Socially Optimal Districting: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1409-1471.
    2. Kevin Milligan & Marie Rekkas, 2008. "Campaign spending limits, incumbent spending, and election outcomes," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1351-1374, November.
    3. Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder Jr, 2003. "Why is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 105-130, Winter.
    4. Grier, Kevin B & Munger, Michael C, 1991. "Committee Assignments, Constituent Preferences, and Campaign Contributions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(1), pages 24-43, January.
    5. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    6. Stratmann, Thomas, 2002. "Can Special Interests Buy Congressional Votes? Evidence from Financial Services Legislation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 345-373, October.
    7. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
    8. Tripathi Micky & Ansolabehere Stephen & Jr James M. Snyder, 2002. "Are PAC Contributions and Lobbying Linked? New Evidence from the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-26, August.
    9. Mian, Atif & Sufi, Amir & Trebbi, Francesco, 2013. "The Political Economy of the Subprime Mortgage Credit Expansion," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 8(4), pages 373-408, October.
    10. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
    11. Tasneem Chipty & Christopher M. Snyder, 1999. "The Role Of Firm Size In Bilateral Bargaining: A Study Of The Cable Television Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 326-340, May.
    12. Milyo Jeffrey & Primo David & Groseclose Timothy, 2000. "Corporate PAC Campaign Contributions in Perspective," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-15, April.
    13. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(2), pages 265-286.
    14. Yasutora Watanabe, 2008. "Ministerial Weights and Government Formation: Estimation Using a Bargaining Model," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 95-119, May.
    15. Denzau, Arthur T. & Munger, Michael C., 1986. "Legislators and Interest Groups: How Unorganized Interests Get Represented," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 89-106, March.
    16. Peltzman, Sam, 1985. "An Economic Interpretation of the History of Congressional Voting in the Twentieth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 656-675, September.
    17. Stephen Coate, 2004. "Pareto-Improving Campaign Finance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 628-655, June.
    18. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2007. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections, Fourth Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Aug 2007.
    19. Gautam Gowrisankaran & Matthew F. Mitchell & Andrea Moro, 2008. "Electoral Design and Voter Welfare from the U.S. Senate: Evidence from a Dynamic Selection Model," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(1), pages 1-17, January.
    20. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2011. "A Structural Model Of Turnout And Voting In Multiple Elections," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-245, April.
    21. Marianne Bertrand & Matilde Bombardini & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Is It Whom You Know or What You Know? An Empirical Assessment of the Lobbying Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3885-3920, December.
    22. Austen-Smith, David, 1995. "Campaign Contributions and Access," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 89(3), pages 566-581, September.
    23. Filip Palda & Kristian Palda, 1998. "The impact of campaign expenditures on political competition in the French legislative elections of 1993," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 157-174, January.
    24. Dennis Epple & Thomas Romer & Holger Sieg, 2001. "Interjurisdictional Sorting and Majority Rule: An Empirical Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1437-1465, November.
    25. Baldwin, Robert E & Magee, Christopher S, 2000. "Is Trade Policy for Sale? Congressional Voting on Recent Trade Bills," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 79-101, October.
    26. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2010. "The Political Economy of the US Mortgage Default Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1967-1998, December.
    27. Thomas Stratmann, 2005. "Some talk: Money in politics. A (partial) review of the literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 135-156, July.
    28. Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-798, August.
    29. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2008. "A Bargaining Theory Of Inefficient Redistribution Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 621-657, May.
    30. Schram, Arthur J. H. C., 1990. "A dynamic model of voter behavior and the demand for public goods among social groups in Great Britain," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 147-182, March.
    31. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
    32. Keith Poole & Thomas Romer, 1985. "Patterns of political action committee contributions to the 1980 campaigns for the United States House of Representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 63-111, January.
    33. Poole, Keith T & Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1987. "The Revealed Preferences of Political Action Committees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 298-302, May.
    34. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
    35. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
    36. Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "How prices matter in politics: the returns to campaign advertising," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 357-377, September.
    37. Stratmann, Thomas, 1992. "Are Contributions Rational? Untangling Strategies of Political Action Committees," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 647-664, June.
    38. Jacobson, Gary C., 1978. "The Effects of Campaign Spending in Congressional Elections," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 469-491, June.
    39. Alexander Raskovich, 2003. "Pivotal Buyers and Bargaining Position," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 405-426, December.
    40. Tripathi, Micky & Ansolabehere, Stephen & Snyder, James M., 2002. "Are PAC Contributions and Lobbying Linked? New Evidence from the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 131-155, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Michael Dorsch, 2013. "Bailout for sale? The vote to save Wall Street," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 211-228, June.
    2. Thomas Stratmann, 2005. "Some talk: Money in politics. A (partial) review of the literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 135-156, July.
    3. Cotton, Christopher, 2012. "Pay-to-play politics: Informational lobbying and contribution limits when money buys access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 369-386.
    4. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2010. "The Political Economy of the US Mortgage Default Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1967-1998, December.
    5. Jürgen Huber & Michael Kirchler, 2013. "Corporate campaign contributions and abnormal stock returns after presidential elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 285-307, July.
    6. Ansolabehere, Stephen & De Figueiredo, John M. & Snyder, James M., 2003. "Are Campaign Contributions Investment in the Political Marketplace or Individual Consumption? Or "Why Is There So Little Money in Politics?"," Working papers 4272-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    7. Alexander Fink, 2017. "Donations to Political Parties: Investing Corporations and Consuming Individuals?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 220-255, May.
    8. Aggey Semenov & Hector Perez Saiz, 2014. "The Effect Of Campaign Contributions On State Banking Regulation And Bank Expansion In U.S," 2014 Meeting Papers 1265, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Bekkouche, Yasmine & Cagé, Julia & Dewitte, Edgard, 2022. "The heterogeneous price of a vote: Evidence from multiparty systems, 1993–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    10. Laurent Bouton & Micael Castanheira & Allan Drazen, 2018. "A Theory of Small Campaign Contributions," NBER Working Papers 24413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder Jr, 2003. "Why is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 105-130, Winter.
    12. Lake, James, 2015. "Revisiting the link between PAC contributions and lobbying expenditures," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 86-101.
    13. Poire, Alejandro, 2006. "Elements for a Theory of Political Finance," Working Paper Series rwp06-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. Tatyana Chesnokova, 2010. "Lobby Interaction and Trade Policy," School of Economics Working Papers 2010-04, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    15. Freille, S. & Avramovich, C. & Moncarz, P. & Sofietti, P., 2019. "Inside the revolving door: campaign finance, lobbying meetings and public contracts. An investigation for Argentina," Research Department working papers 1392, CAF Development Bank Of Latinamerica.
    16. Thomas Stratmann & Francisco J. & Aparicio-Castillo, 2006. "Competition policy for elections: Do campaign contribution limits matter?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 177-206, April.
    17. Bruno Carvalho, 2021. "Campaign Spending in Local Elections: the Effects of Public Funding," Working Papers ECARES 2021-30, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    18. repec:ces:ifodic:v:9:y:2011:i:1:p:15790762 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Richard Damania & Per G. Fredriksson & Thomas Osang, 2005. "Polluters and Collective Action: Theory and Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 72(1), pages 167-185, July.
    20. Balles, Patrick & Matter, Ulrich & Stutzer, Alois, 2018. "Special Interest Groups Versus Voters and the Political Economics of Attention," Economics Working Paper Series 1813, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    21. Christopher Cotton, 2010. "Pay-to-Play Politics: Informational lobbying and campaign finance reform when contributions buy access," Working Papers 2010-22, University of Miami, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lobbying; Special interest politics; Campaign financing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7:p:587-611. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.