Party, Electoral Vulnerability, and Earmarks in the U.S. House of Representatives
28 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2008
Date Written: April 18, 2008
Very little attention has been paid to the relationship between House members' electoral vulnerability and the amount of federal spending they procure for their districts. I argue that vulnerable members receive more spending than safe members, on average, but only if they are in the majority party. The majority party has a greater degree of control over spending than the minority party, and party leaders have an interest in protecting vulnerable members, but only those of their own party. This implies that the majority leadership should "protect" projects which are electorally beneficial to their party's vulnerable members, but prevent the minority party from doing the same. Examinations of three different datasets of earmark distribution in the U.S. House from the past 15 years confirm that the expected relationship exists within the majority, but not within the minority.
Keywords: Congress, Earmarks, Distributive Politics, Pork Barrel, Parties
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