UPDATE: Jane Galt has her Krugman Watch up.
UPDATE: A Blogger.com screw up prevented me from noticing this until just now: John Weidner's "Krugman Truth Squad #12" is up as well.
UPDATE: Matthew Hoy weighs in as well.
Jane Galt hasn't read the column yet, but that hasn't stopped her from putting up a Krugman Watch Teaser. I just wish I had thought of it.
Monday, May 20, 2002
Jane Galt over at "Live from the WTC" takes on Ellen S. Miller's critique of George Will's recent column on campaign finance reform. Miller's approach is barely a notch above anecdotal evidence: she notes the campaign contributions to a variety of legislators and compares that to votes on certain bills. Ms. Galt points out a number of logic errors in Miller's piece, not the least of which is that correlation does not equal causation. Galt is too generous, though, because Miller hasn't even come close to showing a correlation since no attempt to control for other factors is made. Fortunately, someone has done the hard work of controlling for other factors and seeing if there really is a correlation. In "Do Campaign Donations Alter how a Politician Votes?", published in Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 40, No. 2, Pp. 317-350, October 1997, Bronars and Lott address the question head on:
Despite all the work on how campaign donations influence politician's behavior, the nagging question of whether contributions alter how the politician votes or whether these contributions constitute support for like-minded individuals remains unresolved. By combining the campaign contributions literature with the work on politicians intrinsically valuing policy outcomes, we offer a simple test that examines how politicians' voting patterns change when they retire and no longer face the threat of lost campaign contributions. If contributions are causing individual politicians to vote differently, there should be systematic changes in voting behavior when future contributions are eliminated. On the other hand, if contributors donate to candidates who intrinsically value the same policies, there should be no changes in how a politician votes during the last period.Lott writes about his and Bronars' study in a column from last year, "Do Donations Alter Votes?. His conclusion:
The data thus indicate that politicians vote according to their beliefs, and supporters are giving money to candidates who share their beliefs on important issues. A reputation for sticking to certain values is important to politicians. This is why political ads often attack policy “flip-flops” by the opponent — if a politician merely tells people what they want to hear, voters lack assurance that he will vote for and push that policy when he no longer faces reelection. Voters instead trust politicians who show a genuine passion for the issues.