The Effects of Earmarks on the Likelihood of Reelection
43 Pages Posted: 15 May 2010 Last revised: 5 Nov 2013
Date Written: July 31, 2012
Many models predict that incumbent legislators use government spending — “pork barrel” spending — to increase their vote shares in elections. To date, however, evidence for this hypothesis is scarce. Using recently available data on the sponsorship of earmarks in U.S. appropriations legislation, this paper tests the effects of earmarks on the likelihood of legislators’ reelection. The results show that secured earmarks lead to higher vote shares. The analysis demonstrates that a 10 million increase in earmarks leads to as much as a one percentage point increase in vote share on election day. Furthermore, the paper tests for voter responses to earmarks when earmarks have few or many sponsors.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation