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Deficits, Democrats, and Distributive Benefits: Congressional Elections and the Pork Barrel In The 1980s

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Abstract

In this study, we examine the extent to which legislators receive elec toral benefits from altering the geographic distribution of federal outlays. Although there are both theoretical and anecdotal reasons to believe in the existence of such benefits, previous empirical work has largely failed to verify the connection between pork barreling and reelection. We ex amine House incumbents during the 1980s, when budget deficits were allegedly forcing legislators to end the acquisition of distributive benefits, and we discover that legislators did in fact reap electoral benefits from pork barreling in the 1980s. We further discover that there is a sharp partisan difference in the marginal effects of federal outlays: additional federal monies strongly affect Democratic reelection margins but barely impact the electoral fortunes of Republicans. This conclusion has impor tant implications for current debates about Congress, divided govern ment, and the recent Republican takeover of Congress.

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... Altogether, three gaps in the literature can be identified. First, most evidence comes from countries in North and South America, including the United States and various Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico (Alvarez and Saving 1997;De La O 2013;Ortega and Penfold-Becerra 2008;Stratmann 2013;Zucco 2009). Second, the preponderance of studies has concentrated on national-level presidential or parliamentary elections (Calvo and Murillo 2004;De La O 2013;Evans 2006;Klingensmith 2019;Samuels 2002), which is hardly surprising given their general political importance. ...
... Despite the expanding body of relevant literature, most scholars focus on only part of the pork-barrel-spending-electoral link. In terms of geography, most studies have concentrated on North and South America, e.g., the United States and Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico (Alvarez and Saving 1997;De La O 2013;Ortega and Penfold-Becerra 2008;Stratmann 2013;Zucco 2009). ...
... Thus, a larger number of grants allows incumbents to target more voter segments (Leigh 2008;Stein and Bickers 1994). The empirical evidence supporting conjectures about the beneficial effects of grant numbers on the electoral prospects of incumbents is partly mixed (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Bickers et al. 2007). Nevertheless, I formulate my first hypothesis. ...
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Does the targeted spending of public resources provide electoral benefits for incumbents? Despite the attention of scholars to that question, the empirical results are mixed thus far. The present paper supplies insights into the electoral benefits of discretionary funding on local elections. I study the consequences of pork-barrel politics in 7355 competitive mayoral elections in Slovakia between 2006 and 2018, finding that more grants from the central government enhance the likelihood of mayors winning reelection. The same advantage applies to mayors whose municipalities receive grants in local election years. The effects of the number of grants obtained as well as the timing of their distribution are, however, moderated by municipal population. More specifically, a larger number of grants and resources obtained near the end of the mayoral term provides electoral benefits only to small town mayors but give no advantage to the mayors of larger urban areas.
... As mentioned in the introduction, previous studies, which have focused primarily on the United States and Western Europe, have found fairly weak and contradictory support for pocketbook voting in established democracies: while several studies have identified significant pocketbook effects in US Congressional elections (Romero and Stambough 1995, Alvarez and Saving 1997, Ansolabehere and Snyder (2006, many other accounts of US elections found modest and insignificant effects (Kiewiet 1983, Markus 1988, Alvarez and Nagler 1995, Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2000 In Western Europe, the evidence is equally mixed: several studies have found that personal economic considerations mattered less than sociotropic evaluations of the economy in French elections (Lewis-Beck 1988, 1997), and Borre (1997 found similarly weak pocketbook effects in Britain. Finally, Danish elections have been the subject of unresolved debates between studies claiming to find strong pocketbook effects rooted in the country's welfare culture (Nannestad andPaldam 1995, 1997) and others finding no such effects using the same data (Hibbs 1993, Borre 1997. ...
... However, a closer look at the different findings in the existing literature suggests that some of the differences seem to be driven by variations in methodological approach. Thus, whereas studies using aggregated data tend to find significant pocketbook effects (Alvarez and Saving 1997, Weyland 1998, Ansolabehere and Snyder 2006, survey-based analyses of individual voters suggest that sociotropic evaluations of the overall state of the economy are better predictors of voting behavior than individual economic considerations (Lewis-Beck 1988, Powers andCox 2000). 3 ...
... Third, since the program was a recent government initiative and required parents to apply for the vouchers on behalf of their children, we avoid the potential risk that respondents may not be aware of the benefit or that they would not associate it with a government program. This aspect is particularly important considering that earlier studies found that in the U.S. new federal outlays resulted in stronger electoral boosts for incumbents than total spending (Alvarez and Saving 1997) and that vote intentions for incumbents were driven by awareness of new public spending projects rather than by the actual change in such programs (Stein and Bickers 1994). ...
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This paper addresses the question of whether incumbents can buy political support through targeted public spending. Using a regression discontinuity approach which takes advantage of the quasi-experimental design of a recent Romanian government program that distributed coupons worth 200 Euros to poor families towards the purchase of a computer, we find that program beneficiaries were significantly more likely to support the parties of the incumbent governing coalition. These effects occurred both through higher political mobilization and through party-switching. The paper also analyzes the drivers of such political gains and we find that program beneficiaries did not trust either the central government or the governing parties any more than the control group. Instead, it appears that local governments reaped the benefits of increased trust, and the political support for incumbent parties occurred mostly in towns where the local government was controlled by one of the parties of the national ruling coalition.
... This process could be as simple as walking by a construction site with a sign listing financial support from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or driving by a road sign acknowledging Department of Transportation (DOT) support for a highway project. And although scholars have examined how government expenditures can influence support for the politicians who ultimately authorize them (see Alvarez & Saving, 1997;Lazarus & Reilly, 2010), we know little about the effect these expenditures have on support for public agencies themselves. ...
... Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the determinants and impli- cations of the allocation of government funding (see Alvarez & Saving, 1997;Balla, Lawrence, Maltzman, & Sigelman, 2002;Carsey & Rundquist, 1999;Ferejohn, 1974;Lazarus & Reilly, 2010;Martin, 2003;Primo & Snyder, 2010). Distributive politics scholarship outlines the ways in which political actors can benefit electorally from federal spending in their political jurisdic- tions. ...
... There are numerous accounts of members of Congress using their insti- tutional advantages to shift federal money into their districts (see Fenno, 1973;Mayhew, 1974). Scholars have demonstrated that citizens reward leg- islative incumbents for government spending in local areas, increasing their vote shares (see Alvarez & Saving, 1997;Evans, 2006;Lazarus & Reilly, 2010;Levitt & Snyder, 1997). Recent accounts also illustrate the important role of the president in the distribution of federal spending (Berry, Burden, & Howell, 2010). ...
Article
Federal agencies award thousands of grants and contracts each year. Although we have considerable insight into the implications of these expenditures for politicians, we know little about their consequences for agencies. I develop a theory that links agency spending in citizens’ states to their support of agency performance, with the expectation that this relationship is conditioned by citizen–agency ideological congruence. I contend that agency spending serves as an information shortcut for citizens when evaluating agencies because it is often visible in a way that other agency activities, such as regulatory decisions, are not. When a citizen fundamentally supports the policies and projects an agency is funding, the positive effect of spending may be enhanced. I find support for these expectations. This article contributes to our understanding of the ways in which expenditures shape opinion toward agencies, which is important given the significance of public sentiment for an agency’s political survival.
... Finally, some research suggests that voters generally dislike spending growth (Peltzman 1992), but this does not square with implications embedded in the distributive politics (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Lazarus and Reilly 2010) and political business cycle literatures (Alt and Rose 2007;Franzese and Jusko 2006;Lucas 1976;Rogoff 1990). These strands of research assume that politicians spend money to achieve electoral payoffs and that voters reward, not punish, politicians for increased spending. ...
... Indeed, the literature on distributive politics and political business cycles is based on the assumption that policy makers distribute pork to districts, thus increasing spending to boost electoral support (Alt and Rose 2007;Franzese and Jusko 2006;Lucas 1976;Rogoff 1990). Previous research has demonstrated that targeted spending in congressional districts can produce electoral payoffs (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Lazarus and Reilly 2010), and, more recently, shown that local grant dollars can lead to larger presidential vote shares (Kriner and Reeves 2012). We should therefore expect these electoral payoffs to translate to the state level as well. ...
Article
Conventional wisdom suggests that voters hold elected officials accountable for higher spending and taxes and poor fiscal management. In addition, we generally expect that executives will bear the brunt of punishment more than legislators for undesirable fiscal outcomes because the responsibility for decision-making is clearer. Surprisingly, there is little recent research on these expectations even though government spending and fiscal management are central concerns among politicians and the electorate at the state and national level. In this paper, we examine whether governors and legislators are held accountable for fiscal outcomes by voters, and whether these relationships depend on party control and different expectations about how each party should manage fiscal policy. These propositions are tested on gubernatorial and legislative elections data from 1990 to 2008. In the conclusion, we discuss whether electoral accountability for budget outcomes is likely to steer policymakers at the state and national level toward a more sustainable fiscal path.
... Through the particularistic services and programs that will be carried out to their constituents through the employment of discretionary funds in the legislative districts, the electorate can repay these distributive resources through supporting incumbent House members in the succeeding elections. Meanwhile, Alvarez and Saving (1997) likewise underscore the importance of pork barrel releases in the electoral margins of incumbent House members. In their study, Alvarez and Saving (1997) contend that there is a direct link between legislative earmarks and the vote margins. ...
... Meanwhile, Alvarez and Saving (1997) likewise underscore the importance of pork barrel releases in the electoral margins of incumbent House members. In their study, Alvarez and Saving (1997) contend that there is a direct link between legislative earmarks and the vote margins. The findings indicate that democrats gain higher electoral margins than republicans in allocating earmarked programs and projects at the grassroots level. ...
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How does the affiliation of a representative to the chief executive affect his or her pork barrel releases? In executive-legislative relations, the president cannot directly intervene in the policymaking of Congress. Following the principle of the separation of powers in government, the executive cannot influence the lawmakers in the exercise of their roles and functions. However, the president has certain residual powers which he may use in his own discretion. During the time that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has still been existing in the Philippine government, the pork barrel system as a budgetary mechanism has been extensively used by previous presidents to intervene in the legislature. Using the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the chief executive can allocate these discretionary funds to members of Congress at his own will. Through the use of cross-sectional data from the 14th and 15th Congress, an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis has been employed to test whether the president indeed privileges those who are not allied than those who are directly affiliated to the government. Given that the chief executive needs to consolidate his legislative support in the House of Representatives, he needs to provide more incentives to these representatives in securing the passage the agenda of the administration. The results have shown that higher pork releases are allotted by the president to the unaffiliated members in the Lower House. This signifies that the chief executive gives priority to non-allied members for higher appropriations. Thus, the findings directly support the hypothesis that the chief executive provides more pork barrel funds for those who remain critical and hostile to the incumbent administration. It is more efficient and cost-effective for the president to allocate more monetary rewards to non-allies in building majority coalitions in Congress.
... 3 Several studies do find evidence of electoral effects from spending among certain types of incumbents and voters (e.g. Alvarez and Saving 1997;Alvarez and Schousen 1993;Lazarus and Reilly 2010). (Berry, Burden, and Howell 2010;Larcinese, Rizzo, and Testa 2006). ...
... A lengthy literature has examined the variable capacity of members of Congress to channel distributive benefits to their districts (Anzia and Berry 2011;Atlas et al. 1995;Balla et al. 2002;Bickers and Stein 2000;Ferejohn 1974;Lee 2000Lee , 2004Lee and Oppenheimer 1999;Levitt and Poterba 1999;Stein and Bickers 1994). Much scholarship has also focused on whether House members who bring home larger shares of federal spending to their districts enjoy an electoral edge, but with decidedly mixed results (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Alvarez and Schousen 1993;Bickers and Stein 1996;Lazarus and Reilly 2010;Levitt and Snyder 1997;Sellers 1997). According to Sellers (1997Sellers ( , 1026, "most studies" that examine the potential linkage between federal spending and electoral payoff "have failed to find a significant relationship between electoral vulnerability and pork." 4 Despite the emphasis on Congress, studies have occasionally acknowledged the significance of the president in the distribution of federal resources. ...
Article
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Do voters reward presidents for increased federal spending in their local constituencies? Previous research on the electoral consequences of federal spending has focused almost exclusively on Congress, mostly with null results. However, in a county- and individual-level study of presidential elections from 1988 to 2008, we present evidence that voters reward incumbent presidents (or their party's nominee) for increased federal spending in their communities. This relationship is stronger in battleground states. Furthermore, we show that federal grants are an electoral currency whose value depends on both the clarity of partisan responsibility for its provision and the characteristics of the recipients. Presidents enjoy increased support from spending in counties represented by co-partisan members of Congress. At the individual level, we also find that ideology conditions the response of constituents to spending; liberal and moderate voters reward presidents for federal spending at higher levels than conservatives. Our results suggest that, although voters may claim to favor deficit reduction, presidents who deliver such benefits are rewarded at the ballot box.
... Finally, some research suggests that voters generally dislike spending growth (Peltzman 1992), but this does not square with implications embedded in the distributive politics (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Lazarus and Reilly 2010) and political business cycle literatures (Alt and Rose 2007;Franzese and Jusko 2006;Lucas 1976;Rogoff 1990). These strands of research assume that politicians spend money to achieve electoral payoffs and that voters reward, not punish, politicians for increased spending. ...
... Indeed, the literature on distributive politics and political business cycles is based on the assumption that policy makers distribute pork to districts, thus increasing spending to boost electoral support (Alt and Rose 2007;Franzese and Jusko 2006;Lucas 1976;Rogoff 1990). Previous research has demonstrated that targeted spending in congressional districts can produce electoral payoffs (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Lazarus and Reilly 2010), and, more recently, shown that local grant dollars can lead to larger presidential vote shares (Kriner and Reeves 2012). We should therefore expect these electoral payoffs to translate to the state level as well. ...
Article
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Although significant research has been conducted on economic voting in gubernatorial elections, very few explore the impact of state fiscal conditions in these elections. The little that has been done yields conflicting results regarding the effects of state spending and found that governors are not held responsible for a state’s overall fiscal health. Our study examines the impact of spending and fiscal health on gubernatorial elections from 1982 to 2013. We find evidence that voters reward incumbent parties for fiscal health and spending growth and that unified government and stronger executive budget powers enhance fiscal accountability for these outcomes. These findings contradict previous research that suggests voters punish one or both parties for higher spending. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research for the debate about the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches.
... Despite the widespread assumption that voters evaluate incumbents, at least in part, on the basis of how government policies have affected their personal economic fortunes, it is not clear that pocketbook considerations matter. While some studies do find evidence of pocketbook voting Paldam 1994, 1997;Alvarez and Saving 1997;Ansolabehere and Snyder 2006), most find zero or modest effects (Kinder and Kiewiet 1979;Feldman 1982;Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2000;Soss and Schram 2007). In their excellent reviews of a large number of published studies on economic 6 voting, Stegmaier (2007, 2013) conclude that the empirical support for the pocketbook voting model is marginal at best. ...
... Some studies have shown effects of pocketbook considerations in the very specific case of US Congressional elections (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Levitt andSnyder 1997, Ansolabehere andSnyder 2006). Another strand of more recent research has also identified substantial effects of specific changes in policy on the behavior and attitudes of those people affected. ...
Article
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In this paper we revisit the often disregarded ‘pocketbook voting’ thesis that suggests that people evaluate governments based on the state of their own finances. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey over the last 20 years, we measure changes in personal financial circumstances and show that the ‘pocketbook voting’ model works. Crucially, we also argue that the ability to attribute responsibility for these changes to the government matters. People respond much more strongly to changes in their own finances that are linked to government spending, such as welfare transfers, than to similar changes that are less clearly the responsibility of elected officials, such as lower personal earnings. We conclude that pocketbook voting is a real phenomenon, but that more attention should be paid to how people assign credit and blame for changes in their own economic circumstances.
... Del Rossi (1995), 1865-1988 su kaynakları harcamalarını araştırmakta ve harcamaların tahsisinde ekonomik faktörlerin politik faktörlere kıyasla daha önemli olduğuna dair kanıt sunmaktadır. Alvarez & Saving (1995), yasama organının federal harcamaların coğrafi dağılımı üzerindeki etkisine odaklanmakta ve adayların hizmet kayırmacılığı ile seçim faydaları elde ettiğini ifade etmektedir. Ayrıca iktidarda olan partilerin ve partizanlığın etkilerine de vurgu yapılmaktadır. ...
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Tam rekabetçi olmayan piyasa ekonomisinde başarısızlıklar, devletin ekonomiye müdahalesini meşru kılmaktadır (Tresch, 2002: 9). Bu müdahaleler arasında gelir dağılımı, ekonomik istikrar, ekonomik büyüme, çevre kalitesinin yanı sıra kaynakların tahsisi fonksiyonu bulunmaktadır (Musgrave, 1959: 5-6; Musgrave & Musgrave, 1989: 3-14; Ihori, 2017: 4). Siyasal karar alma süreci kapsamında yapılan kaynak tahsisinde toplumdaki fayda-maliyet dağılımının yanı sıra politik ve ideolojik faktörler de etkili olabilmektedir (Hillman, 2009: 22-23). Çalışmanın inceleme konusu olan hizmet kayırmacılığı da devletin kaynak tahsisi fonksiyonu kapsamında yer almaktadır. Piyasa başarısızlıklarına yönelik yapılan devlet müdahaleleri her zaman etkin sonuçlar üretmemektedir (Jha, 2010: 120). Bu durum, özellikle Kamusal Seçiş Teoremi ile tartışılmaya başlanan devletin başarısızlıklarını gündeme getirmiştir. Teoriye göre, siyasal karar alma sürecinde yer alan politikacılar oy, seçmenler fayda, bürokratlar bütçe, çıkar ve baskı grupları ise rant maksimizasyonu temelinde davranmakta ve böylece devletin koşulları açısından optimal politikalardan sapmalar yaşanabilmektedir (Downs, 1957; Buchanan & Tullock, 1969; Mueller, 2003; Buchanan, 2003; Buchanan, 2009). Hizmet kayırmacılığı da politikacıların oy maksimizasyonu amacı doğrultusunda olmasından dolayı siyasal arz kaynaklı devletin başarısızlıklarından biri olarak kabul edilmektedir (Küçükkalay, 2015: 484). Ayrıca siyasi kayırmacılık ve siyasal yozlaşma türleri arasında yer almaktadır (Bayrakçı, 2000: 135-139; Özkanan & Erdem, 2014: 185). Çalışmanın amacı, Türkiye’de parlamenter sistemin uygulandığı 2003-2018 dönemi4 için kamu yatırımları tahsisini etkinlik ve hizmet kayırmacılığı çerçevesinde panel ampirik yöntemler ile analiz etmektir. Bu bağlamda ilk bölümde, hizmet kayırmacılığının teorik boyutu ve belirleyicileri incelenmektedir. İkinci bölümde, ampirik analizde bağımlı değişken olan kamu yatırımları ve Türkiye’deki görünümüne değinilmektedir. Üçüncü bölümde, teorik temellere dayanarak parti merkezli hipotezin neden Türkiye için test edildiği açıklanmakta ve veri seti ile uygulanan panel yöntemlerin metodolojileri yer almaktadır. Çalışma, uygulamanın yapıldığı dördüncü ve bulguların tartışıldığı sonuç bölümleri ile sonlanmaktadır.
... But since then, scholars found mixed empirical evidence on the relevance of committees (Berry et al. 2010, 784;Kriner and Reeves 2012, 349). Some studies found that larger delegations and committee membership affect federal distribution (Grossman 1994, 299;Holcombe and Zardkoohi 1981, 397), but several other works found mixed results for this claim (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Anzia and Berry 2011;Atlas et al. 1995;Balla et al. 2002;Bickers and Stein 2000;Knight 2005;Lee 2000;Lee 2003;Levitt and Poterba 1999;Stein and Bickers 1994). In this article, I study whether the distribution of electoral and partisan power in Congress has an influence over the allocation of funds and if so, whether national and state executives have more sway over the final outcome. ...
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... 13 support for the implications of McChesney's model using Canadian government announcements that constituted threat of economic loss to specific firms or industries but were subsequently retracted. 8 Even though the majority of studies find that political connections are beneficial for firms, some studies show that corporate political connections are costly due to rent-seeking by politicians (see Morck, Stangeland, and Yeung, 2000; Thesmar, 2006a, 2006b; Fisman, Fisman, Galef, and Khuranna, 2006; Fan, Wong, and Zhang, 2007), 1980a, 1980b Rich, 1989; Roberts, 1990; Webster, 1991; Alvarez and Saving, 1997). Mebane and Wawro (2002) highlight the importance of the President's ...
... Finally, these links could be strengthened by portfolio home bias effects affecting the politician and/or his constituencies. 13 The bulk of the earlier empirical literature on distributive politics neglected the role of the President in pork barrel politics, and was focused on Congress and provided weak results (Ray, 1980a(Ray, , 1980bRich, 1989;Roberts, 1990;Webster, 1991;Alvarez and Saving, 1997). Mebane and Wawro (2002) highlight the importance of the President's Based on the above, firms located in areas with strong control by the ruling party may experience both greater opportunities and more risk, and therefore, we hypothesize that political geography affects the cross-section of firms' stock returns. ...
... Finally, these links could be strengthened by portfolio home bias effects affecting the politician and/or his constituencies. 13 The bulk of the earlier empirical literature on distributive politics neglected the role of the President in pork barrel politics, and was focused on Congress and provided weak results (Ray, 1980a(Ray, , 1980bRich, 1989;Roberts, 1990;Webster, 1991;Alvarez and Saving, 1997). Mebane and Wawro (2002) highlight the importance of the President's Based on the above, firms located in areas with strong control by the ruling party may experience both greater opportunities and more risk, and therefore, we hypothesize that political geography affects the cross-section of firms' stock returns. ...
Article
We show that political geography has a pervasive effect on the cross-section of stock returns. We collect election results over a 40-year period and use a political alignment index(PAI) of each state’s leading politicians with the ruling (presidential) party to proxy for local firms’ proximity to political power. Firms whose headquarters are located in high PAI states outperform those located in low PAI states, both in terms of raw returns, and on a risk-adjusted basis. Overall, although we cannot rule out indirect political connectedness advantages as an explanation of the PAI effect, our results are consistent with the notion that proximity to political power has stock return implications because it reflects firms’ exposure to policy risk.
... Prior scholarship has grappled with the electoral effects of pork with mixed results. There is some evidence that success at the pork barrel, or in constituencyoriented politics more generally, translates into more votes on election day, although such findings are typically highly qualified or indirect in nature and always focus on the House (e.g., Cain, Ferejohn, andFiorina 1987, Bickers andStein 1996;Alvarez and Saving 1997;Sellers 1997). Perhaps most important for an analysis the likes of which we conduct here is whether or not efficiency in pork barreling may speak to a senators' overall job performance, which may well be tied up in their experience in office (seniority). ...
Article
In this paper we consider the potential for majority party advantage and corresponding electoral rewards in the U.S. Senate by exploring the distribution of pork barrel projects. Using a unique dataset that includes a host of earmarks added at various stages of the legislative process, we build on partisan and universalistic theories to determine the mode by which these sorts of credit claiming opportunities are distributed in the upper chamber. Our results indicate that the majority party receives a disproportionate share of pork dollars. We further demonstrate that bringing home pork has positive ramifications on Election Day, thereby offering an empirical basis for why the majority party seeks advantage in this area.
... Survey evidence tells us that citizens are remarkably uninformed about particularized spending. 1 Nonetheless, many scholars have maintained, implicitly or explicitly, that earmarks breed appreciative constituents and safer elections (Alvarez and Saving, 1997;Bickers and Stein, 1996;Herron and Shotts, 2006;Jacobson, 2009;Bickers, 1994, 1995) That said, this conclusion is not universally shared. For example, Sellers (1997) argues that electoral benefits from pork are conditional on Member-constituent ideological congruence, while Lee (2003) and Feldman and Jondrow (1984) contend the opposite: earmarked dollars do not lead to actualized electoral gains. ...
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The overwhelming majority of Congresspersons engage in the acquisition of pork projects, also known as earmarks. In the aggregate, the general public overwhelming opposes pork-barrel spending, yet scholars and Members of Congress both contend that earmarked projects make for grateful constituents. This work attempts to explain this discrepancy. Using experimental data, I show that general discussions of earmarks are not universally beneficial. Recipients are only moved when they are made aware of projects in policy arenas of individual importance. Thus, pork is a nuanced policy tool that must be wielded strategically to gain electoral reward from specific subsets of a constituency.
... But since then, scholars found mixed empirical evidence on the relevance of committees (Berry et al. 2010, 784;Kriner and Reeves 2012, 349). Some studies found that larger delegations and committee membership affect federal distribution (Grossman 1994, 299;Holcombe and Zardkoohi 1981, 397), but several other works found mixed results for this claim (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Anzia and Berry 2011;Atlas et al. 1995;Balla et al. 2002;Bickers and Stein 2000;Knight 2005;Lee 2000;Lee 2003;Levitt and Poterba 1999;Stein and Bickers 1994). In this article, I study whether the distribution of electoral and partisan power in Congress has an influence over the allocation of funds and if so, whether national and state executives have more sway over the final outcome. ...
Article
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This article studies the main factors that affect the allocation of non-earmarked federal funds to subnational units in Argentina between 1999 and 2009. The main contribution is that it brings presidential popularity together with presidential structural and partisan preferences for distribution into the analysis. It argues that electorally strong and popular presidents tend to increase transfers to developing districts and reduce allocations to richer districts. Investing in developing provinces is more efficient, and governors from these districts tend to support redistributive presidents and be weaker political challengers than governors from richer units. In contrast, weaker presidents are less capable of resisting pressures from governors from larger and richer districts. There is also more distribution to developing regions when presidents have a larger share of partisan allies there and fewer in richer states. The article discusses these results, compares them with competitive claims, and explores implications for the comparative debate.
... Along the same lines as the evidence presented by Diana Evans regarding earmarks (discussed in the next section), scholars might use whip count data to identify vote-specic instances of coalition formation and legislative deal-making. 8 Instead, previous studies have scrutinized the importance of committee membership (Alvarez & Saving 1997a), majority party status (Balla, Lawrence, Maltzman & Spigelman 2002, Cox & McCubbins 1993, Levitt & Snyder 1995, electoral competition (Alvarez & Saving 1997b, Stein & Bickers 1994, state size (Knight 2008, Lee 2000, majoritarian rules and universalism (Bickers & Stein 1997, Groseclose 1996, Shepsle & Weingast 1981, party alignment with various members of the executive branch or the president (Berry, Burden & Howell 2010, Bertelli & Grose 2009, Gordon 2011, McCarty 2000, partisan contributions (Cann & Sidman 2011), and the roles of local governments buying theories, Evans (1994Evans ( , 2004 oers the most sustained empirical examination of the use of distributive side payments to achieve legislative objectives. 9 As support for her argument that federal monies (earmarks in her case, rather than the categorical grants that are our dependent variable) are used to purchase votes, Evans presents interview data as well as in-depth case studies on legislation for the Federal Highway Program and the North American Free Trade Agreement. ...
Article
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This article examines the relationship between legislative centrism (or conversely, extremism) and the distribution of federal outlays. A substantial body of theoretical work suggests that legislators closer to the chamber median are more attractive and willing candidates to engage in vote buying and hence should receive a disproportionate share of distributive benefits. We investigate this prediction empirically with panel data covering 27 years of federal outlays, using a research design that exploits elections in other districts to identify changes in the relative ideological position of individual legislators. We find a 7% decrease in outlays associated with a one standard-deviation increase in a member’s ideological distance from the median voter. We find the effect of exogenous increases in legislative extremism on outlays to be robust across a wide variety of specifications, and we take special care to distinguish this effect from those induced by potentially confounding covariates, most notably majority party status.
... Simply put, constituents want these federal dollars in their districts, and they reward incumbent members for pork-barrel spending by casting votes for them on Election Day. Evidence for the linkage between federal distributive spending and electoral support is fairly strong, though there is not universal agreement in the literature (Feldman and Jondrow 1984;Stein and Bickers 1995;Alvarez and Saving 1997;Levitt and Snyder 1997;Bickers et al. 2007;Kriner and Reeves 2012;Lazarus and Reilly 2010;Stratmann 2010). ...
Article
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Payne (1991a) postulates that there is a “culture of spending” in the US Congress, whereby members of Congress are socialized to increase their roll-call support for more spending as a function of length of service and exposure to the Washington culture. In this article we develop and test an expanded model of roll-call voting on spending matters, focusing on two potential sources of socialization effects: (1) exposure to the Washington culture of spending, primarily through seniority and proximity to Washington, DC, and (2) previous political experiences developed before members are elected to Congress. Using data for US House members from the 93rd through the 107th Congresses, we estimate a series of models in which we explain National Taxpayer Union scores as a function of seniority, previous political experience, personal attributes, and a range of constituency variables. We find strong and consistent seniority and political experience effects, with senior members and those with extensive political experience more likely to support greater spending than other members. These findings withstand a range of robustness tests.
... Indeed, several studies document such a pattern. Conservative voters are much less likely to vote for a politician who overspends and they prefer tax breaks to spending hikes (Sellers, 1997;Sidman and Mak, 2006;Lazarus and Reilly, 2010;Alvarez and Saving, 1997b;Haselswerdt and Bartels, 2015). Crespin and Finocchiaro (2013) show that Republican senators are not rewarded electorally for pork-barrel earmarks, and Lazarus and Reilly (2010) find similar results for the House. ...
... 6. Chen (2010) demonstrates that collaboration between legislators with overlapping constituencies increases the ability of those collaborators to secure pork barrel spending for their districts. Further, there is ample evidence that securing pork barrel for one's constituents leads to electoral success (Alvarez and Saving 1997;Bickers and Stein 1996). 7. ...
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The coordinated behavior of members of a state delegation to the U.S. Senate can provide constituents in a state greater representation in Congress. Despite this potentially improved level of representation through coordination, popular and scholarly accounts of the U.S. Senate often feature senators from the same state at odds with one another on a variety of policy issues. In this research, we investigate competing expectations regarding the frequency (across topics) of collaborations between members of a state delegation to the Senate. We then test our expectations using patterns in bill cosponsorship in the 103rd–110th U.S. Senates. We find that senators from the same state work together often on the development of legislation, and that this coordinated activity is consistent across a variety of bill topics across many sessions of congressional activity. Notably, same-state status is an even stronger predictor of support via cosponsorship than is same-party status, raising possible avenues of breaking through partisan gridlock.
... On the one hand, in the case of the United States (US), Feldman and Jondrow (1984), for example, find no evidence of a relationship between government spending and the incumbents' election results in the 1970s, whilst Stein and Bickers (1994) demonstrate a positive relationship only in the case of a politically attentive electorate in the 1980s. On the other hand, Alvarez and Saving (1997) and Levitt and Snyder (1997) present compelling evidence for a positive effect of funding on election results. Outside the US, Leigh (2008) demonstrates that targeted funding increased government performance at the 2004 Australian elections. ...
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Members of Parliament are often thought to attract funding into their constituencies to increase their local support, and eventually, secure re-election. Nevertheless, there is only limited research focusing on the question whether or not government funding indeed affects the MPs’ electoral performances. I focus on pork barrel politics in a single country, namely Hungary, and use town-level European Union Structural Funds data between 2007 and 2010 to explain the electoral performance of single-member district MPs at the 2010 general elections. I find that increasing funding improves government MPs’ electoral performances and that the size of the effect is conditional upon the mayors’ party affiliations. In towns with government mayors, government MPs perform significantly better than in towns with opposition mayors. The results have consequences in the fields of the distribution of Structural Funds, the electoral connection between legislators and voters and the European Union’s contribution to regime legitimation.
... Indeed, several studies document such a pattern. Conservative voters are much less likely to vote for a politician who overspends and they prefer tax breaks to spending hikes (Sellers 1997;Sidman and Mak 2006;Lazarus and Reilly 2010;Alvarez and Saving 1997b;Haselswerdt and Bartels 2015). Crespin and Finocchiaro (2013) show that Republican senators are not rewarded electorally for pork-barrel earmarks, and Lazarus and Reilly (2010) find similar results for the House. ...
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... Pero desde entonces, otros investigadores han argumentado evidencia empírica mixta sobre la relevancia de los comités del Congreso (Berry et al., 2010, p. 784;Kriner y Reeves, 2012, p. 349). Algunos estudios han encontrado que bloques legislativos más grandes y más miembros en los comités clave afectan la distribución federal (Holcombe y Zardkoohi, 1981, p. 397;Grossman, 1994, p. 299), pero otros trabajos encontraron resultados mixtos para esta afirmación (Alvarez y Saving, 1997;Anzia y Berry, 2011;Atlas et al., 1995;Balla et al., 2002;Bickers y Stein, 2000;Knight, 2005;Lauderdale, 2008;Lee, 2000Lee, , 2003Levitt y Poterba, 1999;Stein y Bickers, 1994). En este artículo, estudio si la distribución del poder electoral y partidario en el Congreso influye sobre la asignación de fondos federales en las provincias. ...
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... Pero desde entonces, otros investigadores han argumentado evidencia empírica mixta sobre la relevancia de los comités del Congreso (Berry et al., 2010, p. 784;Kriner y Reeves, 2012, p. 349). Algunos estudios han encontrado que bloques legislativos más grandes y más miembros en los comités clave afectan la distribución federal (Holcombe y Zardkoohi, 1981, p. 397;Grossman, 1994, p. 299), pero otros trabajos encontraron resultados mixtos para esta afirmación (Alvarez y Saving, 1997;Anzia y Berry, 2011;Atlas et al., 1995;Balla et al., 2002;Bickers y Stein, 2000;Knight, 2005;Lauderdale, 2008;Lee, 2000Lee, , 2003Levitt y Poterba, 1999;Stein y Bickers, 1994). En este artículo, estudio si la distribución del poder electoral y partidario en el Congreso influye sobre la asignación de fondos federales en las provincias. ...
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In this chapter, I question the theoretical conceptualisation of patron– client relationships in historical perspective and discuss the ways in which the fundamental patterns of patron– client relations – reciprocity, hierarchy and repetition – adapt to the workings of complex societies. In particular, I elaborate on the themes of timing, symmetry and status in patron– client relationships in modern societies. Finally, I emphasise the detrimental effects of patron– client relations for resource mobilisation, democratic accountability, party formation, and institutional development.
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This paper provides a rational explanation for the observation of oversized coalitions, often approaching unanimous size, in the realm of distributive policies. Distributive policies are those which concentrate benefits in specific geographic areas (states, congressional districts) while spreading costs through general taxation. The explanation offered here-that legislators may rationally prefer universalism to "hard-ball" coalition politics-generalizes earlier work of Weingast and Fiorina. In particular, it extends their results to pork-barrel politics, i.e., projects that are economically inefficient, and demonstrates how packages of economically inefficient projects can nevertheless be politically popular. The main theoretical feature that induces preferences for universalism is uncertainty over the composition of winning coalitions and, consequently, the desire for the political "insurance" that universalism provides.
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This paper provides a theory of legislative institutions that parallels the theory of the firm and the theory of contractual institutions. Like market institutions, legislative institutions reflect two key components: the goals or preferences of individuals (here, representatives seeking reelection) and the relevant transactions costs. The authors present three conclusions. First, they show how the legislative institutions enforce bargains among legislators. Second, they explain why, given the peculiar form of bargaining problems found in legislatures, specific forms of nonmarket exchange prove superior to market exchange. Third, their approach shows how the committee system limits the types of coalitions that may form on a particular issue. Copyright 1988 by University of Chicago Press.
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This paper calculates indices of central bank autonomy (CBA) for 163 central banks as of end-2003, and comparable indices for a subgroup of 68 central banks as of the end of the 1980s. The results confirm strong improvements in both economic and political CBA over the past couple of decades, although more progress is needed to boost political autonomy of the central banks in emerging market and developing countries. Our analysis confirms that greater CBA has on average helped to maintain low inflation levels. The paper identifies four broad principles of CBA that have been shared by the majority of countries. Significant differences exist in the area of banking supervision where many central banks have retained a key role. Finally, we discuss the sequencing of reforms to separate the conduct of monetary and fiscal policies. IMF Staff Papers (2009) 56, 263–296. doi:10.1057/imfsp.2008.25; published online 23 September 2008
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Offers a rational political explanation for the notorious inefficiency of pork barrel projects with an optimization model of legislative behavior and legislative institutions. The model emphasizes the importance of the geographic incidence of benefits and costs owing to the geographic basis for political respresentation.-from Author
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This paper deals with a key proposition: that individuals within well-defined institutions engage in universalistic practices when confronting decisions as to the distribution of the political "pork-barrel." To examine such a proposition, district-level data on rivers and harbors appropriations from 1889 through 1913 are examined. This period is particularly interesting because of the structural changes occurring within the House over this relatively short period of time. The concern is with the distributional practices occurring in the House of Representatives over these appropriations. The findings show that oversized coalitions of districts obtained river and harbor projects throughout the period.
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Using returns from the 1978 congressional elections, we estimate the effects of three strategies that incumbents may use to increase their vote totals and improve their reelection prospects: (1) the provision of particularized service to constituents--the casework hypothesis, (2) ideological positioning to represent the policy preferences of the district, and (3) legislative activism, defined as appearing on the floor and introducing bills. Using multiple regression to control for the effects of district partisan composition, district socioeconomic status (SES), the member's seniority, and national partisan swings, we find that casework has no statistically significant effect and further find that a substantively important effect is unlikely, given our estimates. Ideological positioning shows effects that are statistically significant and large enough to substantially affect a member's reelection prospects. Finally, some aspects of legislative activism seem to pay off for incumbents. Analysis of the Center for Political Studies (CPS) 1978 National Election Study data confirms the aggregate results, shows small but statistically significant effects from pork barreling, and distinguishes two types of issue-oriented voting.
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Previous research on the distribution of federal aid monies has been dominated by the donor's perspective. Different distribution formulas, political influence of congressional representatives, bureaucrats, and individual aid recipients have been studied as the sole determinants of aid allocations. Each explanation, however, fails to examine the question of aid allocations from a demand-side perspective. This omission assumes that all governmental units are equally desirous of federal assistance and that any bias in the distribution of federal aid is a function of supply-side conditions. Identifying a linkage between demand-side and supply-side determinants of aid allocations, this article proposes and tests hypotheses derived from an integrated model of federal aid allocations.
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This study examines how much citizens know about a highly salient roll-call vote: the Gulf War Use of Force Resolution. Citizens' awareness of how their representatives voted, while not great, was not trivial. Drawing on survey response theory, the authors determine that how well citizens are able to recall or guess their representatives' positions is structured by individual characteristics and a reasonable set of contextual cues. In their conclusion, the authors draw implications for the impact of public opinion on foreign policy, the ability of citizens to monitor their representatives in noncampaign periods, and for theories of the representation process.
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It is often assumed that changes in federal spending in a congressional district affect the incumbent's prospect of reelection. This study tests that assumption, using cross-section data to analyze voting for candidates for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, and 1980. While variables reflecting party affiliation, the incumbent's vote in the last election, and scandal associated with incumbents are important determinants of the vote, changes in both local federal spending on construction and federal civilian employment in the incumbent's district are shown to have no effect on the share of the vote going to incumbents. They also have no effect on campaign expenditures by either challengers or incumbents.
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A recurring theme in the academic literature on distributive policy is the tendency for legislators to form oversized coalitions to bestow benefits on virtually every district represented in the legislature. In this paper we offer two tests of the universalism hypothesis. First, we examine the distributional expectation of the universalism thesis under the assumption that separate logrolls occur over the distribution of benefits for individual programs. Se cond, we test the thesis under the assumption that logrolls occur over bundles of programs organized by policy subsystems. Our findings show that the evidence on the extent to which benefits from distributive programs are univer salized is weak. We suggest a number of reasons why these weak results might be expected. We argue that the incentive to universalize benefits is only one goal of legislators and may not always be the most fruitful strategy for enhanc ing their reelection prospects.
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The hypothesis that constituencies represented on the congressional military committees benefit disproportionately from the distribution of military procurement expenditures has been tested in several different studies. These tests, involving comparisons of the military procurement expenditures in the constituencies of committee members and other congressmen, have generally yielded negative findings. This paper reports on an alternative, equally plausible test of this hypothesis, avoiding some of the problems inherent in the earlier tests. The new test involves comparing the amount of procurement expenditures in a constituency before and after it gained or lost representation on a House or Senate military committee. This analysis confirms the negative findings of the earlier studies and invites the development of alternative explanations of congressional support for military requests.
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Understanding the dynamics of policy distribution requires an appreciation of federal grant programs that have achieved a prominent place in nearly all areas of domestic policy. The theoretical literature on distributive politics, however, focuses almost exclusively on a centralized, top-down view of policy distribution. By examining the role of presidents, legislators, and bureaucrats, scholars have ignored participants who have become key actors in the distribution of federal expenditures--the recipient jurisdictions. This analysis of the allocation patterns under six federal programs shows that local governments exert important influences on the distribution of federal grants and that the distributional patterns and their determinants vary over time. The analysis also points out the importance of disaggregation by focusing on programs and recipient jurisdictions, as opposed to total federal expenditures and regions, states, or congressional districts.
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Case-Studies of the policy-making process constitute one of the more important methods of political science analysis. Beginning with Schattschneider, Herring, and others in the 1930's, case-studies have been conducted on a great variety of decisions. They have varied in subject-matter and format, in scope and rigor, but they form a distinguishable body of literature which continues to grow year by year. The most recent addition, a book-length study by Raymond Bauer and his associates, stands with Robert A. Dahl's prize-winning Who Governs? (New Haven 1961) as the best yet to appear. With its publication a new level of sophistication has been reached. The standards of research its authors have set will indeed be difficult to uphold in the future. American Business and Public Policy is an analysis of political relationships within the context of a single, well-defined issue—foreign trade. It is an analysis of business attitudes, strategies, communications and, through these, business relationships in politics. The analysis makes use of the best behavioral research techniques without losing sight of the rich context of policies, traditions, and institutions. Thus, it does not, in Dahl's words, exchange relevance for rigor; rather it is standing proof that the two—relevance and rigor—are not mutually exclusive goals.
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Theory: Several models of distributive politics predict a role for parties in determining the allocation of federal outlays. Hypotheses: The number of Democratic voters will be positively correlated with federal outlays, even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables. The degree to which a program will be skewed to Democrats will be a function of the amount of variation in program benefits across districts, whether the program is administered by formula, and the extent of one-party control when the program is initiated. Methods: Regression analysis of district-level data on election outcomes and federal assistance programs for the period 1984-90. Results: The number of Democratic voters is an important predictor of the amount of federal dollars flowing to a district. Programs with a greater amount of variation across districts are more heavily skewed to Democrats, as are programs administered by formula. Programs initiated in the latter half of the 1970s, a time of solid Democratic control, exhibit the greatest bias towards Democrats; programs started in the Reagan era show no such bias. Our results are consistent with a model in which parties in the United States play an important, but limited role in determining the distribution of federal dollars: given enough time, parties can target types of voters, but they cannot easily target specific districts.
Article
In Groups Charged with making collective decisions, two basic processes operate: each individual member must make a decision and these decisions must be aggregated by some process or mechanism to yield a collective decision. Clearly both the means of aggregation (i.e., the decision rule) and individual decisions can affect the specific collective decision made. In turn this makes it necessary in explaining the making of particular collective decisions that we account for why sets of individual decisions were made as well as showing how these decisions were aggregated. This can be a difficult task when the group is small, where the decision rule is simple and straightforward, and where interpersonal authority relationships do not exist. But for large groups with complex decision rules and interpersonal authority relationships, many extremely complex problems exist in trying to explain the making of particular collective decisions. This is all the more serious in that many of the collective decisions and organizations of interest to political scientists are of the latter type.
Article
It is an enduring belief in American politics that legislators who “bring home the bacon” are rewarded for their efforts at the ballot box. Most researchers, however, have been unsuccessful in corroborating empirically a relationship between allocations to member districts and reelection margins. Previous research may have failed to detect a relationship due to misconceptualization, misspecified empirical tests, or both. We argue that not all legislators have the same incentives to utilize pork-barrel strategies to enhance their electoral margins. Furthermore the extent to which voters are influenced by the provision of distributive benefits is likely to depend on the attentiveness of voters to politics, their interest group affiliations, and their sources of political information. In short, both the predisposition to engage in pork-barrel strategies and their effects are likely to be conditional. Hypotheses derived from this respecification of the electoral connection thesis are tested with a data base that combines information on domestic assistance awards to congressional districts, information about members of Congress, and the political knowledge and group affiliations of individual voters. We find that only some incumbents, namely those who are most vulnerable, are likely to seek increases in new awards. Certain constituents, those who are politically attentive members or interest groups are most likely to be aware of new awards to the district and to more favorably evaluate the incumbent as a result. Most members of general public remain indifferent to alterations in the flow of new awards.
Article
The distributive theory of politics predicts that federal budget allocations will be responsive to the committee position of congressmen and their majority/minority party status. But such political allocations are less likely where bureaucrats rather than legislators make the allocative decisions. In such cases we must take into account bureaucratic motivations as well. Niskanen's bureaucratic budget maximization theory emphasizes such bureaucratic maximands and the efficient production of output or activity by the budget constrained bureau. In this paper the two theories are tested using data from the Urban Development Action Grant program, a capital subsidy program operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A set of political and bureaucratic decision criteria is employed as independent variables in a series of logit and Tobit models in order to predict the likelihood of projects being funded and the amounts they will receive. The political criteria are not significant in any specifications, but the bureaucratic criteria suggest an investment-maximizing, risk-avoidance strategy on the part of HUD bureaucrats. Thus the results support the Niskanen theory, but do not support the distributive theory.
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Why do electors trust their representatives?
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In this article, the authors examine two models of the electoral origins of divided government. One model is the policy-moderation model, advocated originally by Fiorina. The other model (proposed by Jacobson) focuses on the different expectations voters have concerning the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as the different electoral contexts in which voters make decisions. Using individual-level survey data, the authors test various hypotheses derived from each model. The empirical results give little support to the policy-moderation model. However, the second model has strong empirical support. The authors conclude with a discussion of their results in relation to empirical and normative studies of divided control of government.