Pork barreling is not credit claiming or advertising: Campaign finance and the sources of the personal vote in Brazil

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Abstract

Although observers of Brazilian politics commonly hold that voters reward incumbents for "bringing home the bacon," I provide reasons to question the direct link between pork and electoral success as well as statistical evidence demonstrating the lack of such a link. This generates a puzzle: if pork barreling is ineffective, why do Brazilian deputies spend so much time seeking pork? The answer is that deputies do not trade pork for votes, they trade pork for money: porkbarrel success helps incumbents raise funds from private sector interests that profit from government contracts. In turn, politicians' access to money, not pork, directly affects their electoral prospects. This article provides a new understanding of the electoral connection in Brazil by showing that existing analyses either have overestimated pork's impact or are underdetermined because they have not included measures of campaign finance. The findings should also encourage comparativists interested in perk-barrel polities, clientelism, the personal vote, and campaign behavior more generally to focus attention on the role of money in elections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-863
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2002

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