Abstract of the Week
Posted at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2013
Douglas Kriner and Andrew Reeves have a new paper presented at the 2013 American Political Science Association conference showing that US presidents tend to pursue policies that benefit targeted constituents, especially in swing states.
“Presidents are often viewed as providing a universalistic counterbalance to the particularistic impulses of members of Congress. We examine the president’s role in divide-the-dollar politics, and find that this is not the case. In an analysis of all county-level federal grant spending from 1984 to 2008, we find that presidents are particularistic, directing dollars to specific constituents to further their own personal goals. As others have noted, presidents target districts represented by their co-partisans in Congress in the pursuit of power.”
“But we show that, to a much greater degree, presidents target counties within swing states and core states that strongly supported the president in the previous election. Swing state particularism is especially salient during presidential reelection years, and core partisan counties within swing states are most heavily rewarded. Our findings reject the notion that presidents simply pursue policies that maximize national outcomes, and instead suggest that presidents use their influence to systematically prioritize the needs of politically important groups of constituents.”