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Business and Politics

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Volume 15, Issue 2 (Aug 2013)


Driving support: workers, PACs, and congressional support of the auto industry1)

Ryan T. Moore
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, 241 Seigle Hall, Campus Box 1063, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA, http://ryantmoore.com
/ Eleanor Neff Powell
  • Corresponding author
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, 77 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA, http://www.eleanorneffpowell.com
  • Email:
/ Andrew Reeves
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, 241 Seigle Hall, Campus Box 1063, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA, http://andrewreeves.org
Published Online: 2013-06-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2013-0005


In 2008 and 2009, the House of Representatives directed billions of dollars to the auto industry by passing a bailout and the “cash for clunkers” program. Moving beyond corporate influence via campaign contributions, we demonstrate that the presence of auto workers in a district strongly predicts legislative support for both bills. In addition to this critical legislation, we also analyze over 250 bills on which the auto industry either lobbied or took a public position. We find no patterns relating a district’s workers or corporate campaign contributions to these votes on broader legislation where other groups, such as environmental advocates or labor unions, are at the table. Instead, the auto industry garners consistent support only on quasi-private, particularistic legislation. Thus, we contend that on particularistic legislation the presence of workers (not just campaign contributions) drives legislative support; however, when legislators expand the scope of conflict, the influence of a single industry is attentuated by other interests.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.


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About the article

Corresponding author: Eleanor Neff Powell, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, 77 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA, http://www.eleanorneffpowell.com

Published Online: 2013-06-12

Published in Print: 2013-08-01

Citation Information: Business and Politics, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, ISSN (Print) 1369-5258, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2013-0005. Export Citation

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  • Replication data and code for this article are available at http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/21320

    posted by: Ryan Moore on 2013-09-12 06:38 AM (America/New_York)