Interest Groups and the Electoral Control of Politicians

39 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2005

See all articles by James M. Snyder

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics

Michael M. Ting

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 2, 2005

Abstract

We study an under-utilized source of data on legislative effectiveness, and exploit its panel structure to uncover several interesting patterns. We find that effectiveness rises sharply with tenure, at least for the first few terms even after controlling for legislators institutional positions, party affiliation, and other factors. Effectiveness never declines with tenure, even out to nine terms. The increase in effectiveness is not simply due to electoral attrition and selective retirement, but appears to be due to learning-by-doing. We also find evidence that a significant amount of "positive sorting" occurs in the legislature, with highly talented legislators moving more quickly into positions of responsibility and power. Finally, effectiveness has a positive impact on incumbents' electoral success, and on the probability of moving to higher office. These findings have important implications for arguments about term limits, the incumbency advantage, and seniority rule.

Keywords: elections, interest groups, voting, rent-seeking

JEL Classification: D7, D72

Suggested Citation

Snyder, James M. and Ting, Michael M., Interest Groups and the Electoral Control of Politicians (February 2, 2005). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 05-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=661582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.661582

James M. Snyder (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics ( email )

E53-457
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-253-2669 (Phone)

Michael M. Ting

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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