The Voter’s Blunt Tool

The Voter’s Blunt Tool

By
Renee Bowen, Cecilia Mo
Journal of Theoretical Politics .
2016, Vol. 28, Issue 4, Pages 655-677

When do voters win? We derive conditions under which a democracy will produce policies that favor the voter over special interests in a setting where politicians can be influenced by contributions from special interests, and are also motivated by electoral incentives. We show that increasing office holding benefits, increasing political competition, decreasing potential rents to special interests, and increasing the salience of policy imply improved policies for the representative voter. We examine panel data on the ratio of taxes paid by individuals relative to corporations in the United States and show that it is negatively correlated with political competition, office holding benefits, and policy salience, as predicted by the model.