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8 - The Electoral Connection

from Part II - Transparency and The Mass Public

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2022

Justin H. Kirkland
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Jeffrey J. Harden
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
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Summary

In principle, voting is the mechanism by which citizen preferences translate into representatives’ action. If our theoretical expectations hold anywhere, we expect that it would be in a politically consequential setting such as elections. We address this possibility in Chapter 8 by analyzing a wealth of data on candidates and voting in state legislative elections as well as interest groups’ campaign donation and lobbying activity. We find that transparency laws do not improve the electoral chances of challengers. When a state opens its meetings, the pool of candidates does not change and incumbents’ vote share is barely affected. In contrast, the picture does change significantly for interest groups. We find that, in open meetings states, these groups’ donations to incumbents increase by substantial amounts while their contributions to challengers remain basically the same. Additionally, the size of the organized interest community is notably larger when a state holds open meetings. In short, an unintended consequence of transparency is that it facilitates interest groups’ capacity to seek access through elections and lobby state governments to achieve their policy goals.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Illusion of Accountability
Transparency and Representation in American Legislatures
, pp. 218 - 243
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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