The forthcoming article “Persuasive Lobbying with Allied Legislators” by Emiel Awad is summarized by the author below. 

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Interest groups are often highly selective in whom they lobby to get preferred policies passed. A substantial empirical literature finds that interest groups typically lobby legislative allies. One mechanism through which these allied legislators can help is by being active intermediaries in persuading their peers. But why do interest groups not simply skip this step and directly target those who need to be convinced? One explanation is that interest groups simply lack access to those legislators who ultimately need to be persuaded. This would imply that interest groups would only go to their friends if access is too costly or simply unavailable. The second explanation, studied more in this article, ignores restrictions on access but completely relies on a legislature’s ideological composition. That is, interest groups have unrestricted access to every legislator, but may still choose to selectively lobby allied legislators. The reason is that these friendly legislators are able to put policies in a more favorable light, which biased interest groups are unable to do by themselves. 

I develop a theoretical model to further study how these intermediaries are selected and how they can be successful in increasing an interest group’s influence over policy-making. The key part of the model is an ideological disagreement among legislators over whether a policy should be implemented, as well as uncertainty about the effects of the proposed policy. After an interest group provides a report with hard evidence that convinces an intermediary to endorse the group’s preferred policy, other legislators learn that the proposal is better than initially thought. For this to work, however, the intermediary has to be moderate enough for his or her endorsement to persuade a majority of legislators. Among the legislators who are sufficiently moderate, interest groups prefer to meet with friendly legislators because they are more likely to support preferred policies. Thus, the value of a connection to a legislator increases in how similar preferences are to interest groups, but legislators are worthless if they are too similar. 

Besides exploring the mechanism of intermediary influence, there are various other implications for the role and value of intermediaries. Interest groups are not always willing to pay for access to legislators if they can directly persuade a majority of legislators without help in the lobbying process. But at the same time, access to carefully chosen intermediaries can increase an interest group’s influence over policies by not having to fully disclose all information. With interest group competition, groups are forced to meet with even more moderate intermediaries, limiting the influence an interest group would have in isolation. 

About the Author(s): Emiel Awad is a LSE Fellow, Department of Government, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Their research “Persuasive Lobbying with Allied Legislators” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.