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Business and Politics

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The Effects of Interest Groups' Ideology on Their PAC and Lobbying Expenditures

Amy McKay1

1Georgia State University

Citation Information: Business and Politics. Volume 12, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, DOI: 10.2202/1469-3569.1306, August 2010

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While the literature on political action committees’ (PACs) contributions to congressional campaigns is substantial, one key variable has been missing: the ideology of the PAC. Such a measure is needed to evaluate a normatively important yet unanswered question: to what extent do PACs give to candidates with whom they agree ideologically, as opposed to candidates they may want to influence after the election? This study shows that many interest groups’ preferences for an electoral strategy or an access strategy can be predicted by their left-right ideology and their level of ideological extremism. The analysis finds that more ideologically extreme groups and more liberal groups spend more money on PAC contributions relative to lobbying. Further, groups’ underlying left-right ideology is also highly predictive of their allocation of PAC contributions between the two parties—even controlling for group type.

Keywords: interest groups; PACs; lobbying; political spending; ideology

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