Geographic Politics in the U.S. House of Representatives: Coalition Building and Distribution of Benefits

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Abstract

This article argues that scholars need to consider the structure of House representation to better understand distributive politics. Because House districts (unlike states) are not administrative units in the federal system, House members cannot effectively claim credit for most grant-in-aid funds. Instead, their best credit-claiming opportunities lie in earmarked projects, a small fraction of federal grant dollars. As a consequence, I expect to find: (1) political factors have a much greater effect on the distribution of earmarked projects than on federal funds generally; and (2) project grants are a better support-building tool for coalition leaders than allocations to states. I test this argument with a study of the 1998 reauthorization of surface transportation programs and find strong support for both hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-728
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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