The Elgar Companion to Public Choice
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The Elgar Companion to Public Choice

Edited by William F. Shughart II and Laura Razzolini

This authoritative and encyclopaedic reference work provides a thorough account of the public choice approach to economics and politics. The Companion breaks new ground by joining together the most important issues in the field in a single comprehensive volume. It contains state-of-the-art discussions of both old and contemporary problems, including new work by the founding fathers as well as contributions by a new generation of younger scholars.  
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Chapter 14: Money

Kevin B. Grier


Kevin B. Grier* 1 Introduction Are campaign contributions free speech or bribery? Are elections for sale to the richest or biggest spending candidate? Does accepting interest-group money inevitably mean that legislators will abandon their constituents and serve Mammon? The role of money in politics is hotly debated, with few accepted conclusions. Views range from Thomas Ferguson’s (1995) claim that interested money is the driving force in American political life, to several statistical findings suggesting that campaign contributions do not influence congressional voting and that campaign spending does not help House incumbents get re-elected. The study of money in politics is fascinating because of its intrinsic importance, the existence of high-quality (and free!) data, and the potential for using empirical studies of money in politics to test broader theories. In this chapter I tackle two topics. First is the raising and allocation of campaign contributions by interest groups. Second is the effect of campaign expenditures on election outcomes. We shall see that, in the first case, econometric problems are manageable, and a general empirical consensus exists, although many important areas remain untouched or at least understudied. In the second case, we shall see that while campaign contributions have been found to have positive and significant effects on the election prospects of Senate incumbents, to date no one has demonstrated convincingly the same commonsense results for House incumbents. I shall argue that the econometric problem inherent in these models is generally misunderstood and that the differences between Senate and House...

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