Modeling Spending Preferences & Public Policy


Understanding preferences over government spending is important for understanding electoral behavior and many other aspects of the political world. Using data on relative preferences for more or less spending across different issue areas, we estimate the general spending preferences of individuals and congressional candidates along a left-right spending dimension. Our modeling approach also allows us to estimate the location of policies on this same dimension, permitting direct comparison of people’s spending preferences with where they perceive policy to be. We find that public shows very low levels of polarization on spending preferences, even across characteristics like partisanship, ideology, or income level. The distribution of candidates’ spending preferences shows much more sorting by party, but candidates are significantly less polarized than is contemporary voting in Congress.

Electoral Studies