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What Do Partisan Donors Want?


Influential theories indicate concern that campaign donors exert outsized political influence. However, little data have documented what donors actually want from government, and existing research has devoted less attention to donors' views on individual issues. Findings from an original survey of US donors, including an oversample of the largest donors, and a concurrently fielded mass survey document significant heterogeneity by party and policy domain in how donors' and citizens' views diverge. We find that Republican donors are much more conservative than Republican citizens on economic issues, whereas their views are similar on social issues. By contrast, Democratic donors are much more liberal than Democratic citizens on social issues, whereas their views are more similar on economic issues. Both parties' donors, but especially Democratic donors, are more pro-globalism than their citizen counterparts. We replicate these patterns in an independent dataset. Our findings have important implications for the study of American politics.

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