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A Dead Senator Tells No Lies: Seniority and the Distribution of Federal Benefits

Brian E. Roberts
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 31-58
DOI: 10.2307/2111510
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111510
Page Count: 28
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A Dead Senator Tells No Lies: Seniority and the Distribution of Federal Benefits
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Abstract

Empirical studies of distributive politics fail to offer any systematic evidence of a relationship between committee seniority in Congress and the geographic distribution of federal benefits. These findings are at odds with many descriptive accounts of the seniority norm for which such a relationship is a presupposition. Evidence and intuition appear at odds with each other. This study offers a partial reconciliation. The death of Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson provides the somewhat macabre backdrop to a novel empirical examination of the seniority/benefit relationship. Evidence is provided through stock market reactions to Jackson's death across various constituent interests of Henry Jackson and Sam Nunn, Jackson's successor as ranking minority member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The results support the hypothesis that a seniority/benefit relationship exists.

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