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Partisan Politics and Public Education: Finding the Formula for (Electoral) Success

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2021

Karin E. Kitchens*
Affiliation:
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
*
Karin E. Kitchens, Department of Political Science, Virginia Tech, Major Williams Hall, 220 Stanger St., Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA. Email: karin@vt.edu

Abstract

Do state politicians reward school districts that vote in favor of the party in power more than school districts that vote in favor of the opposing party? With large shares of money at the state level to transfer to local governments and the ability to target core voters, it would seem likely that politicians would take advantage of the ability to distribute education funds. However, in understanding how states distribute education funds, little emphasis is given to partisan influences, particularly the congruence between local school districts and the state level. To test this, I collected data at the precinct level within each state and, using mapping software, spatially joined precinct boundaries to school district boundaries. Once this relationship was established, I aggregated precinct-level information to school districts to understand the partisan voting patterns within each school district for elections from 2000 to 2010. This article finds evidence that funding formulas are susceptible to political influence and that parties are able to influence the geographic distribution of education funds to core voters.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2020

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