Business Executives Are Conservative

I tweeted something yesterday about how despite what conservative businessmen may say, the macroeconomic forecasts they pay for are invariably powered by Keynesian (or, I guess, New Keynesian) models. That was really supposed to be a joke about how the real business cycle theories beloved of certain free market types have failed the market test, but I was surprised to discover substantial pushback on the idea that businessmen are generally conservative.

Perhaps the clearest evidence on this score comes from Andrew Gellman’s research. This chart comes form his excellent Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State:


As you can see, “owners and proprietors” (small businessmen and entrepreneurs) are the most conservative occupational group but they’re followed by managers of larger firms. You can also see the dynamic at work “the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent nearly $3 million a week in opposition to President Obama’s major agenda items” and is planning to invest $75 million in the midterm elections mostly on Republicans.

It’s of course true that big business is more interested in rent seeking than in promoting a truly free market, and that big firms tend to spread bet with their contributions and attempt to bribe incumbents of all stripes, but the general trend is clear enough. And of course this should all come as no surprise. If I said “middle-aged white men with above average incomes have conservative political views” I doubt anyone would disagree with me. But that’s your corporate manager class.