Money and Ideology: Evidence from Candidate Manifestos

06/8/2021 10:00 am 06/8/2021 11:00 am Australia/Melbourne Money and Ideology: Evidence from Candidate Manifestos

Presented by Caroline Le Pennec (HEC Montreal) with Julia Cagé and Elisa Mougin

Do campaign contributions influence politicians? In this article, we study the impact of corporate donations on ideology and political discourse. We construct a novel dataset that combines the campaign manifestos issued by every candidate running for a seat in the French parliament with data on the amount and the origin of their campaign contributions. We exploit an exogenous historical shock on corporate donations to estimate their causal impact on the content of campaign communication. Combining a difference-in-differences approach with computational text analysis, we show that receiving more donations from small and local corporate donors encourages candidates to advertise their local presence over national politics during the campaign. We also find evidence that donations lead candidates from extreme parties to moderate their rhetoric -- including shifts in the policy topics they advertise. Our findings may reflect a ``quid-pro-quo effect" between donors and politicians, but they are more likely to result from an ''electoral effect": receiving expressive contributions from corporate donors changes candidates' perception of the issues that matter most to their constituents, so they adjust the content of their campaign messages accordingly. Our paper implies that campaign finance regulations may alter the information made available to voters -- through their impact on candidates' rhetoric.

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The SoDa Labs webinar series provides a platform for researchers around the world to present work that uses novel and alternative data and/or tools from data science and beyond to answer social science questions.

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Event Details

Date:
8 June 2021 at 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Venue:
Online
Categories:
General; SoDa Labs

Description

Presented by Caroline Le Pennec (HEC Montreal) with Julia Cagé and Elisa Mougin

Do campaign contributions influence politicians? In this article, we study the impact of corporate donations on ideology and political discourse. We construct a novel dataset that combines the campaign manifestos issued by every candidate running for a seat in the French parliament with data on the amount and the origin of their campaign contributions. We exploit an exogenous historical shock on corporate donations to estimate their causal impact on the content of campaign communication. Combining a difference-in-differences approach with computational text analysis, we show that receiving more donations from small and local corporate donors encourages candidates to advertise their local presence over national politics during the campaign. We also find evidence that donations lead candidates from extreme parties to moderate their rhetoric -- including shifts in the policy topics they advertise. Our findings may reflect a ``quid-pro-quo effect" between donors and politicians, but they are more likely to result from an ''electoral effect": receiving expressive contributions from corporate donors changes candidates' perception of the issues that matter most to their constituents, so they adjust the content of their campaign messages accordingly. Our paper implies that campaign finance regulations may alter the information made available to voters -- through their impact on candidates' rhetoric.

SoDa Labs webinar series

The SoDa Labs webinar series provides a platform for researchers around the world to present work that uses novel and alternative data and/or tools from data science and beyond to answer social science questions.

Register now


E-Mail
SoDaLabs@monash.edu