NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Thomas Stratmann

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Working Papers

January 2000Does Political Ambiguity Pay? Corporate Campaign Contributions and the Rewards to Legislator Reputation
with Randall S. Kroszner: w7475
Do politicians tend to follow a strategy of ambiguity in their policy positions or a strategy of reputational development to reduce uncertainty about where they stand? Ambiguity could allow a legislator to avoid alienating constituents and to play rival interests off against each other to maximize campaign contributions. Alternatively, reputational clarity could help to reduce uncertainty about a candidate and lead to high campaign contributions from favored interests. We outline a theory that considers conditions under which a politician would and would not prefer reputational development and policy-stance clarity in the context of repeat dealing with special interests. Our proxy for reputational development is the percent of repeat givers to a legislator. Using data on corporate po...

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