Why Is There So Little Money in Politics?
In this paper, we argue that campaign contributions are not a form of policy-buying, but are rather a form of political participation and consumption. We summarize the data on campaign spending, and show through our descriptive statistics and our econometric analysis that individuals, not special interests, are the main source of campaign contributions. Moreover, we demonstrate that campaign giving is a normal good, dependent upon income, and campaign contributions as a percent of GDP have not risen appreciably in over 100 years: if anything, they have probably fallen. We then show that only one in four studies from the previous literature support the popular notion that contributions buy legislators' votes. Finally, we illustrate that when one controls for unobserved constituent and legislator effects, there is little relationship between money and legislator votes. Thus, the question is not why there is so little money politics, but rather why organized interests give at all. We conclude by offering potential answers to this question.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2003|
|Publication status:||published as Ansolabehere, Stephen, John de Figueiredo, and James M. Snyder. "Why Is There So Little Money in U.S. Politics?" Journal of Economic Perspectives 17, 1 (Winter 2003): 105-130.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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- Henry Chappell, 1981. "Campaign contributions and voting on the cargo preference bill: A comparison of simultaneous models," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 301-312, January.
- Dal Bo, E., 2000.
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- 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.
- 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 317-350, October.
- David P. Baron, 1989. "Service-Induced Campaign Contributions and the Electoral Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 45-72. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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