To what extent has political pressure or connectedness influenced governors' responses to public health recommendations regarding business closures? We investigate whether campaign contributions from particular industries track governors' designations of those industries as "essential" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyzing the initial iteration of states' lockdown orders, we find preliminary evidence linking receipt of gubernatorial campaign contributions from industry to an increased likelihood of designating that business area as essential. In other words, governors are more likely to designate a business area as essential if they received campaign contributions from that business area. Our result preliminarily suggests that money in politics plays a role in shaping public health responses, and we recommend further research on this matter.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 2, Issue 1 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part II
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