The Impact on Pork-Barrel Spending on Incumbent Fundraising

30 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

Date Written: September 2, 2015


Pork-barrel spending is the use of federal money for localized projects which typically yield only a narrow geographic benefit. It is a commonly held belief that politicians utilize this spending to improve their chances of re-election. One way an incumbent can increase their chances of re-election is through increased fundraising. This paper investigates whether incumbents are able to use pork-barrel spending to bolster their campaign contributions. I find that for every $1 million of pork-barrel spending, incumbents are able to increase their campaign contributions by approximately $17,000. But, this effect is only present when the incumbent properly times the project. I also find that general federal appropriations do not have the same impact. These results support the belief that legislators knowingly use pork-barrel spending for their own personal benefit.

Keywords: Pork-Barrel Spending; Campaign Financing; Re-elections

JEL Classification: D72; H50

Suggested Citation

Klingensmith, James, The Impact on Pork-Barrel Spending on Incumbent Fundraising (September 2, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

James Klingensmith (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

Station Road
Erie, PA 16563
United States

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