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Title: Fundraising for the Caucus: Money, Party Politics, and Policymaking in American Legislatures
Authors: Kistner, Michael
Advisors: Canes-Wrone, Brandice
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: American legislators devote a large and growing amount of time in office to raising money. This dissertation advances our understanding of the causes and consequences of caucus fundraising systems, the party-directed efforts that encourage such fundraising. To do so, I turn to a little explored source of evidence: state legislatures. The second chapter explains the conditions under which parties develop caucus fundraising systems. Using original data linking state legislators to leadership PACs and campaign committees, I show that competition for majority status leads legislators to contribute more to party organizations and candidates, due in large part to parties in competitive chambers selecting committee chairs based on members' contributions. However, parties only institute such systems when powers such as chair appointments are centralized. These findings reveal that parties must possess both the incentives and resources necessary to implement caucus fundraising systems. The third chapter of the dissertation begins unpacking one consequence of this accelerating money race: a diminished capacity to develop public policy. A formal model that considers how pressures shape policymaking is analyzed. The theory distinguishes between two types of policy. I find that the development of collaborative policy is negatively affected by electioneering demands as well as ideological disagreement. In contrast, these same factors lead to more individualistic policy. The theory has implications for research on legislative productivity and is used to structure the analysis of the subsequent chapter. The fourth chapter evaluates whether fundraising demands inhibit policymaking as the theory predicts. The empirics take advantage of state-level variation in campaign finance reforms that reduce the amount of fundraising legislators engage in. Using an original method of identifying important state legislation based on textual similarity to policy enactments discussed in national news, I construct a dataset of major legislation enacted in the states over a period of 20 years. Panel data models provide evidence that decreasing fundraising demands in legislatures leads to the passage of more major enactments. These findings provide a novel explanation for pervasive gridlock in the modern U.S. Congress and suggest practical ways this gridlock can be reduced.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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