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Auto Industry Bailout: Money-Votes Analysis

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Lawmakers supporting the auto bailout received more in campaign contributions on average from the auto industry and auto unions, according to a new study from the Center for Responsive Politics. The study shows that lawmakers voting in the affirmative received $87,063.44 on average, while lawmakers voting against the measure received $80,756.80 on average (the data covers all contributions from 1989 to present).

There are a lot of caveats to the study, which shows union contributions going heavily to Democrats and automotive industry contributions going to Republicans, even those voting “No”. Partisan sensibilities appear to reign supreme. Another factor in the voting seen in the House is geographical location and location of domestic vs. foreign auto plants in a given district. Still, campaign contributions are a good predictive force in determining voting behavior:

"Certainly there are many factors that influence a lawmaker's vote on legislation like this, which has so many implications, but campaign contributions over the last two decades did serve as a guide for how members of Congress were going to vote this week," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "As with votes in October to bail out Wall Street, those politicians willing to lend corporations billions of taxpayer dollars were more likely to have collected money of their own from the industries crying out for assistance.
The switchers (Dems voting “No,” Republicans voting “Yes”) still remain the most interesting voters on this bill. Here are some key points on the Democrats voting No:
  • 12 out of 20 represent Southern states
  • 10 out of 20 represent districts containing a foreign automotive factory
  • 12 out of 20 represent states containing a foreign automotive factory
  • Received on average 44% percent less in contributions from the automotive industries and unions than Democrats voting “Yes” ($54,951.30 vs. $79,303.21)
And the Republicans voting Yes:
  • 24 out of 32 represent Northern states
  • 19 out of 32 represent districts containing a Big Three automotive factory
  • 28 out of 32 represent states containing a Big Three automotive factory
  • Received on average 62% percent more in contributions from the automotive industries and unions than Republicans voting “No” ($136,777.44 vs. $84,197.53)