One common objection to more democracy is that given control of government, the winning coalition will decide to pay themselves more---whether through tax cuts, public projects, subsidies, or contracts etc.

Is there any research that rates American voters on voting for their own direct financial gain?

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    Do you mean the members of Congress or the general public? – hszmv Nov 1 at 19:33
  • @hszmv, either one I suppose... I was thinking of the general public. – elliot svensson Nov 1 at 19:33
  • They do now or at least they think they do. People vote thinking it will improve their lives and wealth, but if you look at the income over time, that has obviously not happened for the majority of Americans. Not an unbiased data based statement, but I believe that is what we have currently with lobbyists; they essentially buy themselves better laws and rules. If anything, broadening democracy would dilute the power to craft laws benefiting a single group. Not research based, so not posted as an answer. – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 1 at 19:34
  • @UnhandledExcepSean, I suspect that "people think they do" is more a reflection of election sales pitches than the motivation of actual voters, and this is one of the things about which I was hoping to see research. – elliot svensson Nov 1 at 19:36
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    People certainly vote for things other than financial gain, but the economy is always important based on polls. – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 1 at 19:45

Given your clarification, Congress is easy: Not anymore. The 27th Amendment bars changes to Congressional Pay from occurring during the session the law was passed. All of the House, and 1/3rd of the Senate will be up for re-election prior to the increase going into effect and their opponents will try and use that against them.

As for the people, I'm inclined to say it's harder to peg. There are certainly those who are happy that they get some of that Pork, but I've also talked to Republicans in Blue States who will actually be hurt by the recent Tax Cuts (and they know it) but support them anyway on principal despite that (Basically, one of the things gone in the recent Tax Cuts is the Federal Re-reimbursement for those living in states with high taxes. Depending on your bracket, this can actually hurt you if you're living in a state with high income taxes, like California (where I met these individuals) because you got some of that back from the Feds.)

I personally am a registered independent because I don't strongly support either major party, despite the fact that one party is pretty dominant in my state and they don't need to court the undecided crowd like me (when I lived in Florida, they treated me as if I was a wrathful god to be appeased). It's getting better now because my state has purpled up a bit.

Even still, there are people who will vote for the party that supports their stance on a single issue, finances be damned (Abortion and Gun politics tend to get this a lot, but other issues, for example, environmentalists tend to vote for Democrats (or the Green Party if they don't care about their candidate winning an election) and Cuban Refugees tend to vote Republican because Republicans usually are tougher on Cuba than Democrats.).

You also have the "Yellow Dog Democrats" (the phenomena exists on the Republicans side too, just look at Trump Supports or the Regan moniker of Teflon Ron for proof, but the Republicans aren't really have a catchy term). The idea is the party can do no wrong and will always get their vote, regardless of position. The term comes from the idea that "if the Democrats ran a Golden Retriever for office, it's still a better pick than a Republican" (flip it for the Republican equivalent, but again, there really isn't a related term for it on the Republican side in so far as I am aware). The general difference between this and the California Republicans I mentioned above is that the party candidate is objectively lousy and doesn't really line up with their values... but at least they aren't from the other party.

This probably isn't an exhaustive list, but it's some of a number of reasons people vote.

  • I'm sure I knew that origin of "yellow dog democrat" and have to wonder if I might be one (or the republican equivalent: I try not to indicate my party affiliation). I'm sure there's a boundary where I'd consider a candidate from the other side over a literal dog, but that that boundary is going to be closer to the moderate dividing zone than most candidates ever are. – Draco18s Dec 6 at 18:46
  • @Draco18s: I did some checking into the phrase and the Yellow Dog was first mentioned by Lincoln as a dig against a long line of Jacksonian Democratic Presidents that were of little noted import (Basically, they took "stuff" and made a great president in Jackson and then used the leftovers to make several "yellow dogs"). The Phrase didn't come into the common use until about the 1928 election, to describe loyal Democrats for Al Smith who was a Catholic (generally Americans feared Papal influence on the White House). – hszmv Dec 6 at 22:07
  • @Draco18s: There is no term for an equivalent Republican loyal voter that originate from Democrats. Rockefeller Republicans and RINOs (Republican In Name Only) encapselate a similar idea, but they are Republican originated terms for members of their own party who are viewed as more socially liberal. The former is dated, as it refers to Ford's Vice President. RINO also refers mostly to an elected official, rather than a voter. Yellow Dogs are voters (the elected official is a Blue Dog as they are the dog and a Republican who suffocated under his constituency, thus turning blue).+ – hszmv Dec 6 at 22:16
  • @Draco18s: Rockefeller's are both the voters and and the candidate. Again, usually. – hszmv Dec 6 at 22:17

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