Presidents and Patronage
American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 58, Issue 4, pp. 1024-1042, 2014
71 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2014 Last revised: 21 May 2015
To what extent do presidents select appointees based upon campaign experience and connections? The answer to this question has important implications for our understanding of presidential management and political leadership. This paper presents a theory explaining where presidents place different types of appointees and why, focusing on differences in ideology, competence, and non-policy patronage benefits among potential appointees. We develop a formal model and test its implications with new data on 1,307 persons appointed in the first six months of the Obama Administration. The empirical results broadly support the theory, suggesting that President Obama was more likely to place appointees selected for nonpolicy patronage reasons in agencies off his agenda, in agencies that shared his policy views, and where appointees are least able to affect agency performance. We conclude that patronage continues to play an important role in American politics with important consequences for campaigns, presidential politics, and governance.
Keywords: president, appointment, patronage, agency, appointee
JEL Classification: D7, D70, D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation