Stimulating the Vote: ARRA Road Spending and Vote Share

39 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2017

Date Written: December 22, 2016


This paper estimates the impact of public good spending on voting behavior in the United States, using a quasi-experimental design and the distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) road improvement projects across the state of New Jersey. I find an approximate 1.7 percentage point increase in the presidential vote share for the Democratic Party - largely responsible for ARRA’s passage and widely perceived to be the more “tax-and-spend” friendly party - in areas close to highway and bridge improvement expenditures. I find no evidence of an effect on turnout. Results are consistent with two alternative mechanisms: one, a salience mechanism whereby spending and associated “funded-by” signage affect voter underlying political preferences; the other, a possible political multiplier effect through which stimulus spending improves local economic outcomes, making voters more willing to support incumbents. I present evidence at odds with the later explanation.

Keywords: Public Goods, Voting, Infrastructure, ARRA

JEL Classification: D72, H41, H54

Suggested Citation

Huet-Vaughn, Emiliano, Stimulating the Vote: ARRA Road Spending and Vote Share (December 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Emiliano Huet-Vaughn (Contact Author)

UCLA ( email )

4284 School of Public Affairs
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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