Presidential Pork Barrel Politics with Polarized Voters

48 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2014

See all articles by Woo Chang Kang

Woo Chang Kang

Department of Politics and International Relations

Date Written: August 26, 2014

Abstract

Despite strong theoretical claims that politicians should target swing voters with distributive benefits, empirical evidence is mixed in the United States. Here I address this puzzle by focusing on two factors overlooked in previous work. First, I show that the bimodal distribution of partisanship among the U.S. public means that swing voters are efficiently targeted by allocating pork to areas where the opposition is strong. Second, I hypothesize that presidents limit swing-voter targeting to times when they are actually up for reelection; thus, the opposition county advantages appear only in the first presidential years. An analysis of the geographic distribution of federal project grants awarded between 1984 and 2009 supports my theory. Presidents target swing voters within competitive states, but they do so only in the year when they seek reelection and they channel benefits to counties where the out-party is strong.

Suggested Citation

Kang, Woo Chang, Presidential Pork Barrel Politics with Polarized Voters (August 26, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2543761 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2543761

Woo Chang Kang (Contact Author)

Department of Politics and International Relations ( email )

1 Anam-dong 5 ka
Seoul
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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