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Guns and votes

Author

Listed:
  • Laurent Bouton
  • Paola Conconi
  • Francisco Pino
  • Maurizio Zanardi

Abstract

Why are U.S. congressmen reluctant to support gun control regulations, despite the fact that most Americans are in favor of them? We argue that re-election motives can help explain why politicians often take a pro-gun stance against the interests of the majority of the electorate. We describe a model in which an incumbent politician must decide on a primary issue, which is more important to a majority of voters, and a secondary issue, which a minority cares more intensely about. We derive conditions under which the politician, when approaching re-election, will pander towards the interests of the minority on the secondary issue. To assess the evidence, we exploit the staggered structure of the U.S. Senate in which one third of members face re-election every two years and examine senators' voting behavior on gun control. In line with the model's predictions, we obtain three main results: senators are more likely to vote pro gun when they are closer to facing re-election; this behavior is driven by Democratic senators, who "flip flop" on gun control; election proximity has no impact on the voting behavior of senators who are retiring or hold safe seats.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2013. "Guns and votes," Working Papers 43819146, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:lan:wpaper:43819146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elliott Ash & Massimo Morelli & Richard Van Weelden, 2015. "Elections and Divisiveness: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 21422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Conconi, Paola & DeRemer, David R. & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Trimarchi, Lorenzo & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2017. "Suspiciously timed trade disputes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 57-76.
    3. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2014. "Policymakers' horizon and trade reforms: The protectionist effect of elections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 102-118.
    4. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:27-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hélia Costa, 2016. "Pork barrel as a signaling tool: the case of US environmental policy," GRI Working Papers 225, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    6. Michael Luca & Deepak Malhotra & Christopher Poliquin, 2016. "The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-126, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2016.
    7. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2014. "Policymakers' horizon and trade reforms: The protectionist effect of elections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 102-118.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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