Socker, Erica Marie (2013-12). The Influence of Big Donors on Congressional Behavior and Electoral Prospects. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This research explores the connections between campaign contributions, congressional behavior, and electoral outcomes. Previous research on the role of money in politics has focused primarily on the influence of political action committees and other organized interests, despite the fact that individual contributions account for over 50 percent of the donations members of Congress receive. This research ad- dresses the influence members' financial ties with affluent individual donors has on their roll call voting, bill sponsorship and primary election prospects. The results suggest big donors shift members further to the ideological right and decrease their likelihood of introducing direct government spending bills in Congress. These financial ties also influence the electoral landscape for incumbents in the primary election by giving Republican incumbents an electoral edge and increasing the chances Democratic incumbents face a tough primary election battle. This research suggests individual donors influence political outcomes with implications for policy outcomes, representation, and party polarization.

publication date

  • December 2013