A Quiet Revolution in State Lobbying: Government Growth and Interest Populations

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What explains contemporary numbers of interest groups in America? To answer this question and help address conflicting narratives in research, I examine the rise of interest groups in the states. Assembling an original dataset based on archival and secondary sources, I find that relatively few groups lobbied legislators prior to the 1960s or 1970s. During those decades, numbers of interest groups began to grow rapidly. I find that increases in lawmaking activities present inconsistent effects on the political mobilization of groups but increases in spending are strongly correlated with mobilization. In additional tests, I find that the effects of spending on group numbers vary by state and are not discernible in most states. In general, a historic transformation of state governments helps to account for the growth of state lobbying. Interest groups have remained active in state capitols ever since.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • government growth
  • interest groups
  • lobbying
  • public choice
  • state politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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