How Government Spending Determines Elections in a Polarized Era
Columbia University Press 2019
In Andrew Sidman, Pork Barrel Politics: How Government Spending Determines Elections in a Polarized Era (Columbia University Press, 2019), offers a systematic explanation for how political polarization relates to the electoral influence of federal spending. He argues that the voters see the pork barrel as part of the larger issue of government spending, determined by partisanship and ideology. It is only when the political world becomes more divided over everything else that they pay attention to pork, linking it to their general preferences over government spending. Using data on pork barrel spending from 1986 through 2012 and public works spending since 1876 along with analyses of district-level election outcomes, Sidman demonstrates the rising power of polarization in United States elections. During periods of low polarization, pork barrel spending has little impact, but when polarization is high, it affects primary competition, campaign spending, and vote share in general elections.
Sidman is associate professor of political science at the City University of New York, John Jay College.