In Song Kim
Department of Political Science, MIT
Co-author: Dmitriy Kunisky (NYU)
Relationships between special interest groups and politicians play a significant role in policymaking. Yet empirical studies of interest group politics have been limited by the difficulty of observing these ties directly. We address this by constructing an original dataset that combines the politicians who sponsor congressional bills with the interest groups that lobby on those bills. We then develop a methodological framework to examine the political networks these data describe. Unlike networks in electoral politics, whose structure has been found to reflect ideology, we find distinct political communities in the lobbying network that are organized according to industry interests and jurisdictional committee memberships. Furthermore, we observe that important actors belong to multiple political communities, capturing their simultaneous commitments to diverse political interests. Our findings provide evidence for the existence of powerful networks in U.S. legislative politics that are distinct from electoral net- works and that exhibit numerous unique structural features.