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University of Michigan Press

Lynda Powell, who was recently awarded the prestigious Richard J. Fenno Jr. prize from the American Political Science Association (APSA) for her book The Influence of Campaign Contributions in State Legislatures, contributed an editorial to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog ahead of Tuesday’s elections. In her post, Powell notes that campaign contributions do not have a clear effect on state legislators’ votes on a particular bill, as lawmakers decide primarily on “ideology, partisanship and constituency interests,” but money nevertheless plays a role in shaping the language of a bill.

“Members have many opportunities, especially in the committee process, to structure the details of legislation to a donor’s advantage,” Powell writes. “Often subtle changes, even altering the wording of a single sentence, can matter to a contributor.” She adds that donors can also exert pressure to have a piece of legislation killed before it comes up for a vote. “Unfortunately, unlike votes on bills, these actions don’t leave a readily observable data trail for us to study.”

Read the full piece at the Washington Post, and get a deeper understanding in The Influence of Campaign Contributions in State Legislatures.

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