February, 2019

America's Crowded Statehouses

Measuring and Explaining Lobbying in the U.S. States
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Across the United States over time, numbers of registered interest groups have continued to increase, but these populations mask the total amount of lobbying that is occurring within America’s statehouses. Among registered interests, average numbers of hired lobbyists have increased markedly since the late 1980s. This study both quantifies this increase and identifies a set of causal variables. Previous studies have proposed a variety of short-term, political and long-term, institutional factors that govern rates of lobbying. Using a new data set spanning multiple decades, I find that changes in lobbying can largely be ascribed to institutional variables, including the implementation of term limits and regulations on lobbying. Lobby regulations, one-party dominance, and legislative expenditures also appear to play a role in determining rates of multiclient lobbying. Direct democracy and state spending do not affect the hiring of lobbyists by registered interest groups.