Does Median Voter Income Matter? The Effects of Inequality and Turnout on Government Spending



This article examines the relationship between economic inequality, electoral turnout and redistributive spending. I use the Current Population Survey to create direct measures of the income of the median voter to investigate its effect on spending and its relationship with inequality and turnout. In the 50 US states from 1978 to 2002, I find little effect of these direct measures on redistributive outcomes; nor do the individual characteristics of the median voter appear to mediate the effects of turnout and inequality measured at the state level. Thus I find no support for the contention that turnout affects government spending via increasing the political representation of the poor. In contrast to cross-national findings, across US states the income of the median voter is not strongly affected by turnout, but rather by other state characteristics.