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June 22, 2009


1. Maybe someone should tell the insurance biz that for all their spending, they are getting only "minimal effects." They seem to share Silver's misperception about the impact of their contributions.

2. Is it possible that a large part of impact of spending falls in places other than roll-call votes? If the insurance lobby can prevent the public option from ever getting out of committee, they'll have won a big victory, but that effect will not turn up in data on roll-call votes.

I'm a little confused about a basic point. Does all the money spent on campaign contributions and K Street lobbying influence votes? Or not.

If the spending has "minimal effects" on roll call votes, what the heck are these people doing blowing all this money away? Are they delusional?

If the politician is four square in favor of a particular industry position, are you implying that creates the contributions? Or is someone "on the fence" going to reap more cash instead?

I'm willing to believe a politician's long held personal beliefs will be the major determinant in voting patterns. I'm also willing to believe that a politician's long term desire to stay in office (anyone in Congress is a long term politician)is also a strong determinant.

It's not necessary for donors to be mistaken about their impact for their donations to be meaningful. They aren't blowing it away, they are just not necessarily "buying votes."

Consider a politician who is "four square in favor" of some position. That politician will face re-election challenges, and will need campaign money. Those who know what he stands for stand to gain if he is re-elected, and they will give him resources. But that is the other causal mechanism -- policy positions cause donations.

It is also likely that donations have other ways of mattering, as in Livingston's 2nd point. Recent work by Rick Hall and co-authors suggests that campaign contributions send a signal to an MC that the donor agrees with the MC, and so their information will be valuable. Since MC's rely on lobbyists for information, this signal is important.

There's a lot of work on this, as Brendan points out.

Instead of ruing the flaws in Silver's work, why not try to work with him?

even if ns does not have enough diclaimers to suit you, if even two or three votes of his nine hypotheticals are unable to be explained away by your counfouder (endogenousness of pac $), then ns is stll correct in his statement that 'money is the reason' the battle is uphill. get over yourself.

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