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The Federal Spending Paradox: Economic Self-Interest and Symbolic Racism in Contemporary Fiscal Politics

Author(s): 

Katherine Krimmel and Kelly Rader

ISPS ID: 
ISPS17-09
Full citation: 
Krimmel, Katherine and Kelly Rader (2017). The Federal Spending Paradox: Economic Self-Interest and Symbolic Racism in Contemporary Fiscal Politics. American Politics Research. First Published April 7, 2017. DOI: 10.1177/1532673X17701222.
Abstract: 
We show how symbolic politics condition public opinion on federal spending and how this helps to explain an important puzzle in contemporary American politics. Using multilevel regression and poststratification to estimate state-level opinion on federal spending, we show that, curiously, opposition to federal spending is higher in states receiving more federal money, per tax dollar paid. Belying the popular narrative surrounding so-called “red state socialism,” we find that simple hypocrisy does not explain this paradox—individuals who are likely to benefit from spending tend to support it. But, income is a more powerful predictor of opinion on spending in “taker” states than “giver” states, heightening state-level opposition in the former. There is also more to the story than economic self-interest. Symbolic racism is four times more powerful than income in explaining opposition to spending, and there are more people with such attitudes in states receiving more federal money.
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Publication date: 
2017
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