Influential theories indicate concern that campaign donors exert outsized political influence. However, little data documents what donors actually want from government; and existing research largely neglects donors' views on individual issues. We argue there should be significant heterogeneity by party and policy domain in how donors' views diverge from citizens'. We support this argument with the largest survey of U.S. partisan donors to date, including an over sample of the largest donors. We show that Republican donors are much more conservative than Republican citizens on economic issues, whereas their views are similar on social issues. By contrast, Democratic donors are much more liberal than Democratic citizens on social issues, whereas their views are more similar on economic issues. Both parties' donors are more pro-globalism than their citizen counterparts. We replicate these patterns in an independent dataset. These patterns can help inform significant debates about representation, inequality, and populism in American politics.
Neil Malhotra is the Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Political Science. He serves as the Louise and Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. Co-Director of the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford GSB.
He has authored over 60 articles on numerous topics including American politics, political behavior, and survey methodology. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among other outlets. He currently serves as an Associate Editor of Public Opinion Quarterly and the Journal of Experimental Political Science.
He received his MA and PhD in political science from Stanford University, where he was the Melvin & Joan Lane Stanford Graduate Fellow. He received a BA in economics from Yale University.