Vote buying, pork barrel & district geography in the US

If you think vote buying/pork-barrel politics can only be studied in developing countries or young democracies, think again. This is precisely the research agenda of Jowei Chen, a young professor at the University of Michigan.  I met him in APSA 2009 and, as you can see, it is really great stuff (the following links are from his own website):

1. Vote Buying in United States Elections:

FEMA hurricane disaster aid increases Bush votes among core Republicans, but not among Democrats or nonpartisans. FEMA also awards disproportionately more aid to Republican applicants, even conditioning on hurricane severity. Full Abstract.
Government monetary awards converted poor voters into Bush supporters in November 2004. Full Abstract

2. The Geographic Targeting of Pork Barrel Projects:

American Political Science Review. Vol. 101, No. 4: p. 657-676. Abstract
Forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 54, No. 2. Abstract

3. The Electoral Geography of Legislative Districting:

We conduct legislative districting simulations using only the apolitical criteria of drawing compact and contiguous districts. We show that the Republican party naturally wins a disproportionately large share of legislative seats in Florida, even without gerrymandering. This result emerges because Democratic voters tend to live in highly concentrated, urban cores, thus “wasting” their electoral strength on a small number of landslide Democratic districts. Republican voters are geographically dispersed more evenly throughout the hinterlands, allowing the Republican party to win a disproportionate share of districts by a slight margin.

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