Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

The geography of money and politics: Population density, social networks, and political contributions

Publication date: 
11/2017
Authors: 
Yu-Ru Lin
Ryan P. Kennedy
David Lazer
The geography of money and politics: Population density, social networks, and political contributions

We examine the social antecedents of contributing to campaigns, with a particular focus on the role of population density and social networking opportunities. Using 10 years of US campaign contribution data from the Federal Election Commission and a national survey of party leaders, we find that recruiting contributors is easier in a densely populated region, where the daily opportunity of individuals being exposed to the same information via their social networks is high. Furthermore, the effect of population density is heterogeneous with respect to mobility: if a region has substantial commuting outflow, the chance of being mobilized from the place of residence decreases, but the chance of mobilization in their place of work increases. This analysis also reveals differences between political parties. Democrats are more dependent on social netowrking in population dense areas. This difference in the importance of social networking opportunities present in geographical space helps explain macro-level patterns in party fundraising.

Research Areas TOC

Computational Social Science, Collective Cognition

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks

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