How Interest Groups Effect Voting Essay, Research Paper
How Interest Groups Contributions Effect Voting. This paper will deal with how and if interest groups campaign contributions effect voting behavior in the United States Government. Does the contribution effect voting behavior, or are lobbies only targeting those Representatives that already hold the same political agendas? Do interest groups buy support and votes? In order to do this I will summarize the article I selected, find the variable that explains the behavior and describe the link. Next I will compare and contrast this articles findings with those of both yourself and the text. Finally I will discuss which explanation I find to be the most convincing. John Wright in his article Contributions, Lobbying and Committee voting in the U.S. House of Representatives tries to explain representatives voting decisions. He does this by looking at the total number of lobbying contacts representatives received from groups on each side of the issue. He also finds that campaign contributions proved useful for explaining groups lobbying patterns. Most scholars and political practitioners acknowledge some connection between PAC money and lobbying. It is believed, for example, that contributions even if they do not buy votes buy access (Wright 1990. Contributions, Lobbying and Committee Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives p.418). John Wright uses a statistical model to explain lobbies and representatives votes. Model one Lobby=f[party, ideology, constituency, leader, contributors, (money-money), u]. The author explains the model in this way, Thus, the greater the total number of groups contributing money to a representative, the greater should be the number of groups lobbying; and this should hold for groups on both sides of the issues. Also, the difference in the total amount of contributions a representative has received from competing groups (money-money) should directly affect lobbying decisions(Wright 1990. Contributions, Lobbying, and Committee Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives p.422). The author found that campaign contributions affect on representatives voting decisions directly or whether they influence indirectly through lobbying is unclear. The author uses two variables, lobby and votes, throughout his research. In the end he found that representatives voting decisions in committee, is best explained by the total number of lobbying contacts they received from groups on each side of the issue. He also found that contributions proved to be useful in predicting groups lobbying patterns. The author ended by stating Hopefully, empirical evidence that lobbying is important to the congressional policy process will encourage further theoretical work on lobbying strategies (Wright 1990. Contributions, Lobbying, and Committee Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives). The conclusions of Jeff Wright are corresponding with the views of Lecture on March 11, 1997. These are the first two points given to us in class showing how campaign contributions can be an advantage to certain interest groups. The first point being electoral strategy . That is, an interest group contributing to the campaign of the candidate who agrees with them so that that candidate will be elected. The second point mentioned was the access strategy, this is the area most concentrated on by the author. This is when a certain group donates money so that the Legislature gives more recognition to the group. Wright states Representatives voting decisions in committee, particularly in the Ways and Means Committee, are best explained here by the number of lobbying contacts they received from groups on each side of the issue. Also mentioned in lecture was the fact that money contributions rarely affect voting directly, the only votes that money changes are the ones that determine the outcome of legislation . This is one of the conclusions that Jeff Wright also came to; Campaign contributions proved to be useful predictors of groups lobbying patterns; but once lobbying was controlled, little evidence was found in support of a direct link between money and voting .
In the text Approaching Democracy, Berman and Murphy believe that interest groups, more specifically, PACs, not only effect the government, but control it altogether. They believe this because PACs can legally contribute more money than individuals. Therefore campaign fundraising has shifted from seeking citizens support to seeking money from PACs. Berman and Murphy believe that the increasing power of interest groups has weakened the power of political parties. They also agree with the fact that PACs financial assistance helps in determining who the candidates are. Which they also believe takes away from one of the traditional roles reserved for candidates . These authors believe that interest groups increasing power in campaign selection is dangerous because they focus on a narrow range of issues or even single issues. Berman and Murphy also support the access theory. PACs have taken the traditional lobbying role of interest groups and added a new way to gain access and influence . There are two reasons why I have found the explanations of Jeff Wright to be the most convincing. First, that voting decisions are affected by the number of lobbying contacts, is persuasive because the issues are on there minds more prevalently. The more often you hear about something, even if it is just a name, the more you think about it. Groups that don t have the funds to get there names on the table will have less influence solely for the fact that they haven t been mentioned as often. The second reason that I was convinced by Wrights argument was for the fact that it is so expensive to run a campaign. If a politician wants to be elected, they will need as much financial support available. Interest groups can provide that support.