Distributive Spending and Presidential Partisan Politics
37 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 2, 2020
Do Republican and Democratic presidents vary in their geographic allocations of federal spending? Recent scholarship suggests that US presidents provide more federal outlays to districts represented by their co-partisans, but leave the issue of partisan affiliation unanswered. We explore that question using an updated database that covers federal spending programs over the 1984-2014 period. We show that the alignment effect found in previous studies cannot be observed for Republican presidents. We argue that Republican presidents may not use pork as much as Democratic presidents because their core constituency is fiscally conservative. One implication of the results reported herein is that the electoral benefits of distributive politics depend on the fiscal preferences of the electorate.
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