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Senate Representation and Coalition Building in Distributive Politics

Frances E. Lee
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 94, No. 1 (Mar., 2000), pp. 59-72
DOI: 10.2307/2586380
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2586380
Page Count: 14
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Senate Representation and Coalition Building in Distributive Politics
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Abstract

The Senate's equal representation of states shapes coalition building in distributive politics. The great variation in state population means that some states have far greater need for federal funds than others, but all senators have equal voting weight. As a result, even though all senators' votes are of equal value to the coalition builder, they are not of equal "price." Coalition builders can include benefits for small states at considerably less expense to program budgets than comparable benefits for more populous states. Building on formal models of coalition building, two hypotheses are developed and tested. First, coalition builders will seek out less costly members to build supportive coalitions efficiently. Second, the final outcomes of distributive policy will more closely reflect the preferences of small-state senators than large-state senators. The hypotheses are tested by examining the 1991 and 1997-98 reauthorizations of federal surface transportation programs. The findings support both hypotheses.

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