Legislator Quality and Campaign Contributions
Mebane, Walter R.
Ratkovic, Marc T.
Tofias, Michael W.
We introduce a simple theoretical model of the relationship between the
campaign contributions a legislator receives from a PAC and the amount of
``service'' the legislator provides to the PAC, a key assumption being
that the marginal cost of service decreases as the quality of the legislator
increases. Optimal solution of the constrained optimization problem that
each PAC faces in allocating its campaign contributions among legislators
implies a conditional two-limit tobit model for the relationship between
contributions and aspects of the quality of each legislator. The
constraints arise because PAC contributions must be positive but no greater
than a legally limiting value and because each PAC's budget for
contributions is finite. We extend the tobit model to support pooling data
>from several similar PACs. We estimate the empirical model using data from
the U.S. House of Representatives. The fact that optimal PAC behavior
implies censoring suggests that it is usually inappropriate to aggregate
contributions from different PACs; but pooling can work well.
constrained nonlinear optimization
political action committees
U.S. House of Representatives
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