We demonstrate that personal connections amongst US politicians have a significant impact on Senate voting behavior. Networks based on alumni connections between politicians are consistent predictors of voting behavior. We estimate sharp measures that control for common characteristics of the network, as well as heterogeneous impacts of a common network characteristic across votes. We find that the effect of alumni networks is close to 60 percent as large as the effect of state-level considerations. We show that politicians use school ties as a mechanism to engage in vote trading ("logrolling"), and that alumni networks help facilitate the procurement of discretionary earmarks.
Cohen, Lauren, and Christopher J. Malloy.
"Friends in High Places."
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy,
Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
Network Formation and Analysis: Theory
Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification