Political returns to ad hoc farm payments?

Joseph P. Janzen, Trey Malone, K. Aleks Schaefer, Daniel P. Scheitrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the extent to which ad hoc farm payments made under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) affected voting patterns in the 2020 Presidential Election. MFP and CFAP payments were historically unique not only in terms of their magnitude, but also because they were authorized almost entirely by the incumbent Administration of President Donald Trump without direct Congressional authorization or appropriation. Our results indicate that these payments did influence county-level voting outcomes. The observed response is driven almost exclusively by increased turnout among Trump supporters—we do not observe evidence that ad hoc payments generated widespread “vote switching” away from the Democratic or third-party candidates and toward Trump. We find the MFP and CFAP programs generated 677,512 votes for Republican candidate Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election with an estimated cost-per-vote-gained of $66,124. These votes induced by ad hoc farm payments were insufficient to change electoral college outcomes in any U.S. state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied Economic Perspectives and Policy
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • 2020 Presidential Election
  • ad hoc farm payments
  • coronavirus food assistance program
  • market facilitation program
  • voting behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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