Investor Influence: Investigating the Effect of Conservative Donations on Bill Sponsorship in the U.S. Congress

Date
2021
Authors
Garza, Stephanie
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Abstract

This research investigates a key argument of asymmetrical polarization; that donations from elite political actors influnce the policymaking process. I conduct two quantitative analyses to investigate this potential relationship. The bills selected for this study are bills lobbied by Koch Industries and its subsidiaries because Koch’s influence is perhaps the most telling representation of elite political actors. Analysis 1 observes the effect of conservative donations on bills sponsored and cosponsored by Republican members of the 110th, 111th, and 112th Congresses and Analysis 2 presents the ideological quintiles of these bills based on Adam Bonica’s (2013) CFscore averages. The results of Analysis 1 indicate that most of the bills had higher Cfscore averages than the Congress and Chamber they were introduced in, however, none of the differences indicate substantive significance. Therefore, the hypothesis, Republican members of Congress, who receive more campaign contributions from conservative organizations and capitalist elites, promote bills that benefit these donors by sponsoring or cosponsoring legislation, is not supported. The results of the second analysis indicate that the upper quintiles – 0.6 and 0.8 – are ideologically conservative and the lower quintiles – 0.2 and 0.4 are ideologically liberal. Additionally, the results indicate that the Republican Party introduced the most conservative bills in the 112th Congress. The actual increase of bills introduced in the 112th Congress does not suggest that the Congress became more extreme but rather, that Republicans were able to introduce more bills after they gained control of the 112th House following the 2010 election.

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Keywords
Primaries & caucuses, Investigations, Health care policy, Candidates, Climate change, Nonprofit organizations, Political parties, Public policy, Asymmetrical Polarization, Congress, Legislation, Policy, Political parties
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Department
Political Science and Geography