Bootleggers, Baptists and ballots

Coalitions in Arkansas’ alcohol-legalization elections

Originally published in Public Choice

Yandle (Regulation 7(3):12–16, 1983) proposed a “bootleggers and Baptists” framework to explain political coalition formation. Using mandatory disclosure reports, I document actual examples of such coalitions in Arkansas county-level elections to legalize alcohol. The coalitions often are composed of liquor stores in bordering counties where alcohol already is legal, along with churches and other religious organizations. Funding comes primarily from existing liquor stores, although religious organizations provide funding in some cases. Religious organizations contribute to the coalition in several non-monetary forms, which I also document in this article by reference to news reports and other sources. The results confirm Yandle’s theory of tacit coalitions.


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