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Predictors of interest group lobbying decisions

  • Author(s): Apollonio, DE
  • et al.

Both popular opinion and existing research suggest that money is the key predictor of interest group lobbying activity. However, this new research on interest group lobbying argues that the decision to spend money on lobbying is dependent on a range of resources, not just organizational wealth. Using a sample containing organizations that did and did not make lobbying expenditures in the 1998 election cycle, it shows how interest group resources explain differences in lobbying behavior among organizations with similar political goals. Despite the fact that both advocacy groups and labor unions seek electoral goals like getting new legislators into office, advocacy groups are less likely to spend money on lobbying than labor unions. In addition, firms are less likely to spend money on lobbying than trade associations, even though both types of groups primarily seek access to legislators. The availability of interest group resources, such as a committed membership and organizational experience, helps explain these differences in behavior. These findings suggest that fears about the corrupting influence of money on politics may be overstated.

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