Guns and Votes

61 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2013

See all articles by Laurent Bouton

Laurent Bouton

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Paola Conconi

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Francisco Pino

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Maurizio Zanardi

Lancaster University - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2013

Abstract

Why are U.S. congressmen reluctant to support gun control regulations, despite the fact that most Americans are in favor of them? We argue that re-election motives can help explain why politicians often take a pro-gun stance against the interests of the majority of the electorate. We describe a model in which an incumbent politician must decide on a primary issue, which is more important to a majority of voters, and a secondary issue, which a minority cares more intensely about. We derive conditions under which the politician, when approaching re-election, will pander towards the interests of the minority on the secondary issue. To assess the evidence, we exploit the staggered structure of the U.S. Senate— in which one third of members face re-election every two years—and examine senators’ voting behavior on gun control. In line with the model’s predictions, we obtain three main results: senators are more likely to vote pro gun when they are closer to facing re-election; this behavior is driven by Democratic senators, who “flip flop” on gun control; election proximity has no impact on the voting behavior of senators who are retiring or hold safe seats.

Keywords: Elections, Gun-control regulations, Pandering, Vocal minority

JEL Classification: D72, I18

Suggested Citation

Bouton, Laurent and Conconi, Paola and Pino, Francisco and Zanardi, Maurizio, Guns and Votes (November 2013). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9726. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353883

Laurent Bouton (Contact Author)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) ( email )

CP 132 Av FD Roosevelt 50
Brussels, Brussels 1050
Belgium

Paola Conconi

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
32 2 650 2345 (Phone)
32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Francisco Pino

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium

Maurizio Zanardi

Lancaster University - Department of Economics ( email )

Lancaster LA1 4YX, LA1 4YX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/staff/zanardi/

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