Waves of decentralization that have swept the developing world have come with waves of scholar- ship documenting disappointing outcomes in local service provision. Some have identified robust electoral competition as a means by which clientelistic local government can be improved. Using original data from a survey of local government officials in Ghana, I show that where elections are most competitive, local governments over-provide patronage and under-provide public services. My identification strategy exploits plausibly exogenous variation in political competition arising from historical migration of ethnic blocs with distinct political allegiances. I argue that this behavior is driven by the patronage-seeking behavior of volunteers on whom the political parties rely to mobilize voters. The leverage of these volunteers is elevated because voters are highly immobile between the major parties, and especially so in areas where elections are closely fought.