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How Reelection Constituencies Matter: Evidence from Political Action Committees' Contributions and Congressional Voting

Thomas Stratmann
The Journal of Law & Economics
Vol. 39, No. 2 (Oct., 1996), pp. 603-635
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/725717
Page Count: 33
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How Reelection Constituencies Matter: Evidence from Political Action Committees' Contributions and Congressional Voting
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Abstract

This article shows that voting in the U.S. Congress and contribution strategies of political action committees (PACs) are guided not by the median voter model but by a model that emphasizes characteristics of legislators' unobserved reelection constituencies. It also identifies which legislators of a given party have conservative or liberal reelection constituencies. The proposed model indicates that the importance of party affiliation for congressional voting differs for legislators with identical party affiliation. Differences are caused by dissimilar characteristics of their reelection constituencies. The proposed model implies distinct patterns of giving by corporate and labor PACs to legislators of the same party with dissimilar reelection constituencies. The evidence is consistent with the proposed model and is consistent with the objective of PACs to influence congressional decisions and assemble a voting majority in Congress. For example, labor PACs were found to contribute heavily to those Democratic legislators with conservative reelection constituencies.

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