The Electoral Determinants of State Welfare Effort in the U.S. South, 1960–2008

Source: William C. Terry, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, vol. 16 no. 4, December 2016
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From the abstract:
This article examines the impact of electoral politics on state welfare policy in the post-civil rights era South. In contrast to an emerging consensus concluding that southern African Americans materially benefited from rejoining the electorate, this study suggests that higher black registration rates actually reduced states’ poverty relief efforts. In the years immediately following the Voting Rights Act (VRA), when Democrats controlled state government, the significant negative relationship between the size of the black electorate and state welfare generosity was moderated to some extent by high levels of partisan competition. In such cases, Democrats ostensibly chose a “core” targeting strategy of pursuing lower-income votes and had the institutional wherewithal to purchase these votes with policy concessions. Overall, however, the liberal “Downsian” policy response to African American mobilization was dominated by an antiredistributive response. In the South, welfare policies were relatively conservative vis-à-vis the other states during Jim Crow and became more so in response to black voting.