Stimulating the Vote: ARRA Road Spending and Vote Share
39 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2017
Date Written: December 22, 2016
This paper estimates the impact of public good spending on voting behavior in the United States, using a quasi-experimental design and the distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) road improvement projects across the state of New Jersey. I find an approximate 1.7 percentage point increase in the presidential vote share for the Democratic Party - largely responsible for ARRA’s passage and widely perceived to be the more “tax-and-spend” friendly party - in areas close to highway and bridge improvement expenditures. I find no evidence of an effect on turnout. Results are consistent with two alternative mechanisms: one, a salience mechanism whereby spending and associated “funded-by” signage affect voter underlying political preferences; the other, a possible political multiplier effect through which stimulus spending improves local economic outcomes, making voters more willing to support incumbents. I present evidence at odds with the later explanation.
Keywords: Public Goods, Voting, Infrastructure, ARRA
JEL Classification: D72, H41, H54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation