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CANCELLED - Joint Public Economics & Applied Microeconomics Workshop: Eric Avis

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 11:40am to 1:10pm

Uris Hall, 494
Central Campus

Eric Avis - HEC Montreal

Interest Groups, Campaign Finance and Policy Influence:
Evidence from the U.S. Congress

Abstract:  Do special interest groups use campaign contributions to buy influence from politicians? In this paper, I develop and structurally estimate a model which integrates interest group competition for influence and the spatial theory of voting. In the model, politicians weigh contributions against their ideological preferences when choosing how to vote, while interest groups allocate contributions across politicians to affect the probability of passage of bills. To estimate the model, I combine a new micro-dataset of interest group positions on over 10,000 bills with a
dataset on campaign contributions. I find a significant and robust relationship between interest group contributions and favorable roll call votes. Moreover, I find that moderate Republicans are more influenceable than ideologically extreme Republicans, but there is no relationship between ideology and influenceability among Democrats. A counterfactual analysis of the 110th to 114th Congresses of the U.S House of Representatives indicates that interest groups altered the outcomes of 3 to 19 votes per Congress, including several on the passage of important bills.

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Event Type

Class/ Workshop




economics, EconPublic, EconSeminar, EconAppliedMicro

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Ulrike Kroeller

Contact Phone



Eric Avis

Speaker Affiliation

HEC Montreal

Open To

Cornell Economics Community (List Serve Members)

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