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A Swing-State Theory of Trade Protection in the Electoral College

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  • Dimitra Petropoulou
  • Mirabelle Muuls

Abstract

This paper develops an infinite-horizon, political agency model with a continuum of political districts, in which incumbent politicians can improve their re-election probability by attracting swing voters in key states through strategic trade protection. A unique equilibrium is shown to exist where incumbents build a reputation of protectionism through their policy decisions. We show that strategic trade protection is more likely when protectionist swing voters have a lead over free-trade supports in states with relatively strong electoral competition that represent a larger proportion of Electoral College votes. US data is used to test the hypothesis that industrial concentration in swing and decisive states is an important determinant of trade protection of that industry. The empirical findings provide support for the theory and highlight an important, and previously overlooked, determinant of trade protection in the US Electoral College.

Suggested Citation

  • Dimitra Petropoulou & Mirabelle Muuls, 2007. "A Swing-State Theory of Trade Protection in the Electoral College," Economics Series Working Papers 372, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:372
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chad Brown & Paola Conconi & Aksel Erbahar & Lorenzo Trimarchi, 2020. "Trade Protection Along Supply Chains," Working Papers ECARES 2020-52, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Lorenzo Trimarchi, 2020. "Trade Policy and the China Syndrome," Working Papers ECARES 2020-15, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Conconi, Paola & DeRemer, David R. & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Trimarchi, Lorenzo & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2017. "Suspiciously timed trade disputes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 57-76.
    4. Elena Besedina, 2010. "Exporting, Productivity and Government Interventions: Is There a Link?," Discussion Papers 28, Kyiv School of Economics.
    5. Xiangjun Ma & John McLaren, 2018. "A Swing-State Theorem, with Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Stephen Devadoss & Elijah Kosse, 2020. "Political economy of the US–Mexican tomato trade agreement," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 1059-1075, April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political Economy; Elections; Electoral College; Swing States; Trade Policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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