NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Does Political Ambiguity Pay? Corporate Campaign Contributions and the Rewards to Legislator Reputation

Randall S. Kroszner, Thomas Stratmann

NBER Working Paper No. 7475
Issued in January 2000
NBER Program(s):   LE

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 political action committee contributions (PACs) to members of the U.S. House during the seven electoral cycles from 1983/84 to 1995/96, we find that legislators do not appear to follow a strategy of ambiguity and that high reputational development is rewarded with high PAC contributions.

download in pdf format
   (214 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (214 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7475

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Alesina and Cukierman w2468 The Politics of Ambiguity
Kroszner and Strahan w6637 What Drives Deregulation? Economics and Politics of the Relaxation of Bank Branching Restrictions
Alesina and Holden w14143 Ambiguity and Extremism in Elections
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us