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Media Markets, Special Interests, and Voters

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  • Leopoldo Fergusson

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 special interests´ capture 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 1.5 percentage points in in-state counties relative to the out-of-state counties. Results are similar in specifications that rely solely on variation in concentration across time within the same county, and when the sample is limited to in-state counties that are contiguous to out-of-state counties and have similar demographic structures. A placebo test where in-state counties bordering out-of-state ones are compared to other in-state counties shows no effect, confirming the identification hypothesis that the results are not driven by geographic characteristics or distance from the media center of the state.

Suggested Citation

  • Leopoldo Fergusson, 2012. "Media Markets, Special Interests, and Voters," Documentos CEDE 9796, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:009796
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    Cited by:

    1. Papaioannou, Sotiris, 2018. "Does education affect economic liberty? The role of information and the media," MPRA Paper 87417, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 16 Jun 2018.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters, in: Francesco Forte & Ram Mudambi & Pietro Maria Navarra (ed.), A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Nordin, Mattias, 2019. "Local television, citizen knowledge and U.S. senators' roll-call voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 212-232.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Elections; media; special interests; campaign finance;
    All these keywords.

    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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