The Liberal Hour: Electoral Pressures and Transfer Payment Voting in the United States Congress

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Abstract

The desire for reelection is commonly believed to pressure public officials to distribute additional benefits to potential voters. In this study, using congressional roll call data on votes for various types of transfer payment legislation during the 1970s, I present some specific evidence on the degree to which the decisions of U.S. representatives and senators are affected by election worries. Variation in the level of electoral pressure felt by members of Congress is achieved by noting the level of competition in their districts, the proximity of the next election, and the ambition for office held by the incumbent. The results indicate that while electoral pressures unmistakably cause some alteration in transfer payment voting behavior, it is easy to overestimate the importance of the desire for reelection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-865
Number of pages20
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Volume46
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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