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How the Workplace Affects Employee Political Contributions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2021

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France


How important is the workplace for employees’ political donations? Contrary to research on workplace political mobilization, existing work assumes that most individual donors contribute ideologically. I link donations of employees and Political Action Committees (PACs) from 12,737 U.S. public companies between 2003 and 2018 to show that 16.7% of employee donations go to employer-PAC-supported candidates. I investigate the dynamics between employee and PAC donations within firm–legislator pairs over time and find that both rank-and-file employees and executives contribute more dollars to company-supported politicians. Firm–employee donation alignment is stronger on powerful and ideologically moderate politicians with high value for the employer. Results from a difference-in-differences design further show modest changes in the partisan composition of employee donations after swift changes in the partisan donations of corporate PACs. The results suggest investment-related rather than ideological motives for alignment and highlight the importance of corporations for money in politics.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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