Corporate Contributions to Ballot Measure Campaigns: Real Effects and Valuation

57 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021 Last revised: 17 Jul 2023

See all articles by Rüdiger Fahlenbrach

Rüdiger Fahlenbrach

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Swiss Finance Institute; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Alexei V. Ovtchinnikov

HEC Paris - Finance Department

Philip Valta

University of Bern

Date Written: July 6, 2023


We analyze novel data on corporate contributions to ballot initiatives and referendums at the U.S. state level. Firms make significant contributions to ballot measures in favor of or against specific initiatives. Analysts revise their forecasts in response to ballot measure outcomes. Firms experience economically large changes in sales following the passage of important ballot measures. Firms that contribute to successful (failed) direct initiated state initiatives exhibit significantly positive (negative) CARs around the election. Ballot measure spending represents a distinct and economically important dimension of firms’ political strategy. Ballot measure outcomes have important consequences for firms and their shareholders.

Keywords: Ballot initiatives, Direct democracy, Corporate political contributions, Real effects

JEL Classification: G30, G32, D72

Suggested Citation

Fahlenbrach, Rüdiger and Ovtchinnikov, Alexei V. and Valta, Philip, Corporate Contributions to Ballot Measure Campaigns: Real Effects and Valuation (July 6, 2023). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 21-23, Available at SSRN: or

Rüdiger Fahlenbrach (Contact Author)

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

Quartier UNIL-Dorigny
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Swiss Finance Institute

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CH-1211 Geneva 4

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Alexei V. Ovtchinnikov

HEC Paris - Finance Department ( email )

1 rue de la Liberation
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351

Philip Valta

University of Bern ( email )

Engehaldenstrasse 4
Bern, 3012

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