Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Organization

DOI of Published Version



The political economy of trade policy has largely neglected popular elections. When legislatures determine protection, politicians supply tariffs that are demanded by their constituents. A model of this political market is specified and tested with data related to the McKinley Tariff of 1890. An index of the extent to which tariff protection accrued to individual congressional districts is applied, along with demand and supply variables, to three questions: Did representatives supply tariffs to their districts as the model predicts? Did they vote in accordance with the district tariff interest in the roll-call vote on the McKinley Tariff? Did electors reward representatives for the district tariff protection in a manner consistent with a political market model? Empirical estimations based on the model provide answers that are generally affirmative and appear to be inconsistent with the traditional view that the Republican defeat in 1890 was a result of the McKinley Tariff.

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

International Organization, 45:1 (1991) pp. 455-490. DOI: 10.1017/S0020818300001399


Copyright © 1991 The IO Foundation. Used by permission.