Public Choice

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 169-186

First online:

Political cheating

  • John R. LottJr.Affiliated withHoover Institution, Stanford UniversityDepartment of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University

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This paper shows that how a politician votes is unrelated to whether he faces re-election. This contradicts the universal agreement by economists that political behavior is constrained by the threat of re-election. Contrary to the existing work on ideology, I show that ideology can prevent rather than cause opportunistic behavior. My discussion of ideology can explain why the last period does not affect how a politician votes but only how often he votes. Besides providing an explanation for how politicians can internalize the long-run returns to investments through ideology, my results show that political parties have no effect on how retiring congressmen vote. Finally, I shall try to argue that politicians are search and not experience goods.