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The Market for Congressional Votes: Is Timing of Contributions Everything?

  • Stratmann, Thomas

This study utilizes the timing of campaign contributions to identify whether the objective of Political Action Committees (PACs) is to influence congressional votes or solely to elect a preferred candidate. The results show that PAC behavior is consistent with an attempt to purchase congressional votes and to influence elections. Contributions increase in the weeks surrounding legislative events of importance to PACs and elections. The magnitude of increased contributions is examined. The article also addresses the lack of legal enforcement mechanisms in vote-for-contribution agreements. It develops hypotheses regarding the timing of contributions as an inexpensive mechanism to assure contractual performance. Hypotheses are tested regarding PACs' incentives to mitigate potential cheating by legislators on such agreements. Results show that PACs use the timing of contributions as a mechanism to prevent legislators from reneging on vote-for-contribution trades. Copyright 1998 by the University of Chicago.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467385
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 41 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 85-113

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:41:y:1998:i:1:p:85-113
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. 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.
  2. W. Bentley MacLeod & James M. Malcomson, 1986. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers 585, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Mueller, Dennis C & Stratmann, Thomas, 1994. "Informative and Persuasive Campaigning," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 81(1-2), pages 55-77, October.
  4. Stratmann, Thomas, 1996. "How Reelection Constituencies Matter: Evidence from Political Action Committees' Contributions and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 603-35, October.
  5. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
  6. Bronars, Stephen G & Lott, John R, Jr, 1997. "Do Campaign Donations Alter How a Politician Votes? Or, Do Donors Support Candidates Who Value the Same Things That They Do?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 317-50, October.
  7. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  8. Stratmann, Thomas, 1992. "Are Contributions Rational? Untangling Strategies of Political Action Committees," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 647-64, June.
  9. Snyder, James M, Jr, 1992. "Long-Term Investing in Politicians; or, Give Early, Give Often," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 15-43, April.
  10. Chappell, Henry W, Jr, 1982. "Campaign Contributions and Congressional Voting: A Simultaneous Probit-Tobit Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 77-83, February.
  11. 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.
  12. Stratmann, Thomas, 1995. "Campaign Contributions and Congressional Voting: Does the Timing of Contributions Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(1), pages 127-36, February.
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