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Did the New Deal Solidify the 1932 Democratic Realignment?

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  • Shawn Kantor
  • Price V. Fishback
  • John Joseph Wallis

Abstract

The critical election of 1932 represented a turning point in the future electoral successes of the Democrats and Republicans for over three decades. This paper seeks to measure the importance of the New Deal in facilitating the Democrats’ control of the federal government well into the 1960s. We test whether long-differences in the county-level electoral support for Democratic presidential candidates after the 1930s can be attributed to New Deal interventions into local economies. We also investigate more narrowly whether voters rewarded Roosevelt from 1932 to 1936 and from 1936 to 1940 for his efforts to stimulate depressed local economies. Our instrumental variables estimates indicate that increasing a county’s per capita New Deal relief and public works spending from nothing to the sample mean ($277) would have increased the long-run support for the Democratic party by 10 percentage points. We further find that the long-run shift toward the Democratic party after 1928 was not a function of the Roosevelt landslide victory in 1932. Roosevelt’s ability to win over voters during the 1936 and 1940 elections, however, did matter for the long-term.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18500.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Publication status: published as Kantor, Shawn & Fishback, Price V. & Wallis, John Joseph, 2013. "Did the New Deal solidify the 1932 Democratic realignment?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 620-633.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18500

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  1. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
  2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  3. Wallis, John Joseph, 1984. "The Birth of the Old Federalism: Financing the New Deal, 1932–1940," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(01), pages 139-159, March.
  4. Whatley, Warren C., 1983. "Labor for the Picking: the New Deal in the South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 905-929, December.
  5. Price V. Fishback & Michael R. Haines & Shawn Kantor, 2007. "Births, Deaths, and New Deal Relief during the Great Depression," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-14, February.
  6. Barreca, Alan I. & Fishback, Price V. & Kantor, Shawn, 2012. "Agricultural policy, migration, and malaria in the United States in the 1930s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 381-398.
  7. Zeynep K. Hansen & Gary D. Libecap, 2004. "Small Farms, Externalities, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 665-694, June.
  8. Frank Kleibergen & Richard Paap, 2003. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-003/4, Tinbergen Institute.
  9. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  10. Romer, Christina D., 1992. "What Ended the Great Depression?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 757-784, December.
  11. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Depew, Briggs & Fishback, Price V. & Rhode, Paul W., 2013. "New deal or no deal in the Cotton South: The effect of the AAA on the agricultural labor structure," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 466-486.
  13. Fishback, Price V. & Horrace, William C. & Kantor, Shawn, 2005. "Did New Deal Grant Programs Stimulate Local Economies? A Study of Federal Grants and Retail Sales During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 36-71, March.
  14. Fishback, Price V. & Horrace, William C. & Kantor, Shawn, 2006. "The impact of New Deal expenditures on mobility during the Great Depression," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 179-222, April.
  15. Steven D. Levitt & James M. Snyder, Jr., 1995. "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 5002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Reading, Don C., 1973. "New Deal Activity and the States, 1933 to 1939," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(04), pages 792-810, December.
  17. Fleck, Robert K., 2013. "Why did the electorate swing between parties during the Great Depression?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 599-619.
  18. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor & John Joseph Wallis, 2002. "Can the New Deal's Three R's Be Rehabilitated? A Program-by-Program, County-by-County Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. John J. Wallis & Price V. Fishback & Shawn E. Kantor, 2006. "Politics, Relief, and Reform. Roosevelt’s Efforts to Control Corruption and Political Manipulation during the New Deal," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 343-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Alston, Lee J., 1981. "Tenure choice in Southern agriculture, 1930-1960," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 211-232, July.
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