Last updated: February 15, 2020

DISSERTATION

"Thinking Like Politicians: How Revolving-Door Lobbyists Win in Interest Group Politics."

Abstract: Government officials and staffers often become lobbyists after exiting government employment. These "revolving-door lobbyists" made up an ever growing share of the lobbying market over the last two decades, in one of the most salient recent developments in interest group politics. It has attracted a great deal of attention from scholars and citizens concerned about its potential to confer outsize influence on special interests at the expense of the public interest. But revolvers' rise does not automatically imply special interests' dominance. Quite the opposite force exists: By socializing professional advocates in public office and then exporting them to interest groups, the revolving door in fact compounds the principal-agent problem in lobbying and constrains rather than enhances groups' policy influence. Specifically, I argue that revolvers' primary advantage over conventional lobbyists is their ability to think and claim credit for lobbying outcomes like politicians. Among the novel findings, I report that revolvers pursued a distinct strategy of managing clients' expectations when lobbying for federal appropriations. By issuing modest demands to congressional appropriators, revolvers were able to elicit new spending levels close to their requests, winning more of what they requested than conventional lobbyists. This tactic of expectations management led revolvers to appear more effective as agents to interest groups than their competitors despite not winning greater policy gains in absolute terms.

Committee: Thad Kousser (chair), Samuel Kernell, Gary C. Jacobson, James Fowler, and David G. Victor

 
 

PUBLICATIONS

Kernell, Samuel, Roger Larocca, Huchen Liu, and Andrew Rudalevige. 2019. "New Data for Investigating the President’s Legislative Program: OMB Logs and SAPs." Presidential Studies Quarterly. 49(2): 330-357.

Liu, Huchen, and Gary C. Jacobson. 2018. "Republican Candidates' Positions on Donald Trump in the 2016 Congressional Elections: Strategies and Consequences." Presidential Studies Quarterly. 48(1): 49-71.

 

PUBLICATIONS

Jacobson, Gary C., and Huchen Liu. 2020. "Dealing with Disruption: Congressional Republicans' Responses to Donald Trump's Behavior and Agenda." Presidential Studies Quarterly 50(1): 4-29.

Kernell, Samuel, Roger Larocca, Huchen Liu, and Andrew Rudalevige. 2019. "New Data for Investigating the President’s Legislative Program: OMB Logs and SAPs." Presidential Studies Quarterly. 49(2): 330-357.

Liu, Huchen, and Gary C. Jacobson. 2018. "Republican Candidates' Positions on Donald Trump in the 2016 Congressional Elections: Strategies and Consequences." Presidential Studies Quarterly. 48(1): 49-71.