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Voting's Rewards: Voter Turnout, Attentive Publics, and Congressional Allocation of Federal Money


Paul S. Martin is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Oklahoma, 455 W. Lindsey, Room 205, Norman, OK 73019 (


Scholars have had limited success empirically demonstrating the importance of political participation. This study shows that political participation matters because it influences political rewards. Political participation, specifically voting, acts as a political resource for geographic groups. Voting is a resource because members of Congress seek to maximize the benefits of Federal budget allocations going to their districts. Members of Congress not only try to direct resources into their districts, but they also attempt to allocate strategically those resources to the areas that provide the best return in terms of votes. Hence, areas within congressional districts that vote at higher rates will be privileged over areas that vote at lower rates.