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Administrative Politics and the Public Presidency

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Brandice Canes-Wrone * Princeton University

Prepared for a special collection of essays in Presidential Studies Quarterly on the Scientific Study of the Administrative Presidency

May 2007

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I thank David Lewis and William Minozzi for helpful conversations and comments. An earlier version

of this paper was presented in a roundtable at the 2007 Midwest Political Science Association Meetings in Chicago.
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Associate Professor of Politics and Public Affairs. 214 Robertson Hall; Princeton, NJ 08544.

bcwrone@princeton.edu. Phone: (609)258-9047. Fax: (609)258-5533.

Abstract

As a field we know exceedingly little about how presidents’ public relations affect administrative politics. For instance, when will presidents create new agencies to satisfy public concern about an issue? When does public opinion provoke presidents to fire officials? The dearth of scholarship on these sorts of questions is striking, particularly given the emphasis in the literature on the increased importance of public relations to the presidency. I argue that we cannot fully understand bureaucratic politics without considering the impact of this development, which scholars often call the “public presidency.” Furthermore, I argue that research on the public presidency has largely concentrated on legislative politics, which differ considerably from administrative politics. After delineating general claims, I outline theoretical and empirical considerations for two specific avenues of research. My hope is that these considerations will help stimulate attention to how administrative politics are shaped by presidents’ public relations.

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President George W. Bush has initiated several major policy reversals that involve administrative politics. For example, in June of 2002 he gave a national address promoting the creation of a Department of Homeland Security after having long opposed a cabinet-level office for domestic security. This speech and the president’s subsequent actions helped create the office with features he desired (Maltzman and Adams 2003; Canes-Wrone 2006). Four years later, only a day after the Democrats had gained majorities in the House and Senate, Bush again abruptly initiated a significant administrative change. This time he fired Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld despite having claimed a week before that Rumsfeld would remain in office for the remainder of the term (Gerstenzang 2006). Political commentators were quick to declare that public opinion drove these policy switches. In the case of the Department for Homeland Security, observers maintained the decision was motivated by polling data that suggested the administration was not adequately addressing the threat of terrorism (Balz 2002; Bettelheim and Barshay 2002). In the case of Rumsfeld, Bush himself tried to suggest public opinion was a factor. Speaking to the press the day after the midterm elections, Bush surmised that “Many Americans voted to register their displeasure at the lack of progress we are making [in Iraq]" and announced that the Pentagon needed a “fresh perspective” that would involve new leadership (Bush 2006). One might expect scholarship to shed light on whether these incidents fit general patterns of how public opinion affects presidents’ decisions regarding the federal bureaucracy. After all, in recent years the literature on the administrative presidency has produced a wealth of systematic knowledge about a range of topics, including the politicization of appointments (e.g., Moe 1985b; Lewis forthcoming), presidential control of the bureaucracy (e.g., Wood and Waterman 1991; Hammond and Knott 1996; Aberbach and Rockman 2000), budgetary politics

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(e.g., Carpenter 1996; Krause 1996), and White House centralization (e.g., Rudalevige 2002). Yet scant attention has been paid to the ways in which a president’s public relations affect his (or her) decisions and behavior with respect to the federal bureaucracy. A couple of studies suggest that lower personal approval ratings increase the likelihood a president issues executive orders (e.g., Deering and Maltzman 1999; Mayer 1999). 1 A few other studies, which I review in the subsequent section, analyze the relationship between personal popularity and the appointments process. Finally, Whitford and Yates (2005) find that presidents’ public statements about drug control policy have affected the willingness of U.S. attorneys to prosecute narcotic-related cases. In sum, we know exceedingly little about how presidents’ public relations affect administrative politics. When will presidents create new agencies to satisfy public pressure to “do something” about a problem? How if at all are agencies created to satisfy such public pressure likely to differ from others? And what are the consequences of these answers for the size and organization of the federal bureaucracy? Likewise, under what conditions, and for what types of appointments, is public opinion likely to affect the president’s choice of nominee or the likelihood of confirmation? And when does public opinion provoke presidents to fire officials? The dearth of scholarship on such questions is striking, particularly given the emphasis in the literature on the establishment of a public or plebiscitary presidency (e.g., Lowi 1985; Skowronek 1993). Research suggests chief executives have increasingly utilized opinion polls for a variety of purposes (e.g., Jacobs and Shapiro 1995; Geer 1996) and taken presidentiallegislative debates to the public (Kernell 2006[1986]; Tulis 1987; Edwards 2003; Canes-Wrone 2006). Also many studies indicate personal popularity increases a president’s influence with

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Similarly, Krause and Cohen (2000) show that executive orders are more likely the worse is the state of

the economy, which is correlated with a president’s approval ratings.

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Congress (e.g., Edwards 1980, 1989; Rivers and Rose 1985; Canes-Wrone and de Marchi 2002; but cf Cohen et al. 2000). It is difficult to imagine that these features of presidents’ public relations have no bearing on administrative politics. In fact, the examples from the George W. Bush administration suggest that we cannot fully understand the interaction between the president and bureaucracy without considering how presidents’ public relations affect this interaction. Yet the literature on the plebiscitary presidency has focused on legislative politics, and the effects presumably differ in the administrative domain. For one thing, a president is more likely than Congress to be held accountable for the performance of the bureaucracy, while Congress is viewed as a full partner, if not more, in the legislative process (e.g., Moe 1985b). Additionally, chief executives often have a “first-mover” advantage in the bureaucratic arena they lack in legislative politics. For instance, they select the nominees that go before the Senate. They can create some agencies without congressional approval (e.g., Howell and Lewis 2002). This lack of attention to how presidents’ public relations affect administrative politics, particularly combined with the growth in scholarship on the administrative presidency, engenders a lot of “low-hanging fruit” regarding research questions that are ripe for systematic attention. Rather than simply list a hodgepodge of such questions, I outline theoretical and empirical considerations for delving into two issues: the impact of presidents’ personal popularity on appointments, and the impact of public opinion on agency creation. My hope is that these considerations will stimulate thought about this and other important issues regarding how presidents’ relations with the public shape administrative politics.

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Appointments and Presidents’ Personal Popularity A few articles provide insight into the effects of presidential approval on the politics surrounding appointments that require confirmation by the Senate. 2 King and Riddlesperger (1996) show that higher approval increases the proportion of Senators voting for a nominee if she is accused of having a conflict of interest; Nixon (2004) finds that approval does not affect the president’s choice of nominees with respect to their ideological preferences; and Corley (2006) shows that higher approval increases the likelihood presidents make recess appointments. While all of these studies contribute to the literature, they leave critical issues unaddressed. King and Riddlesperger, for instance, do not examine how approval affects the likelihood that the Senate brings nominees to the floor or the delay between nominations and confirmation votes, yet avoidance or delay is more likely than a failed vote (McCarty and Razaghian 1999). Nixon only examines bureaucratic nominees that had previously served in Congress, and some claim the Senate is likely to confirm former colleagues.3 Finally, while Corley’s finding is intriguing, it does not fit with what we know about legislative politics, where approval aids presidents. Corley offers some justification for the result, but does not attempt to develop a broader theory that would explain why high approval ratings would enable recess appointments yet still make them necessary (i.e., why Congress would not approve the nominations directly). More generally, existing work has not developed a body of theory, either formal or informal, of how a president’s public approval should affect the appointments game between the

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Presidents’ approval could also affect appointments that do not require Senate confirmation, but space

restrictions preclude delving into this issue here.
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For instance see Orin Hatch’s comments in (Meserve and Sesno 2001).

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White House and Senate. What are some key features of such theory? I first review what is known from the literature on the public presidency, which is focused on legislative politics. I then identify several additional issues that this literature has not addressed and that are central to administrative politics.

Theoretical Considerations from Research on Legislative Politics Political scientists have extensively examined how presidential approval affects legislative politics. The emphasis of this literature has been more empirical than theoretical, although the empirical studies have, to varying degrees, developed tests on the basis of theoretical frameworks. Two major findings emerge from this work. First, it suggests that the effects of approval on congressional behavior should not be considered in isolation from any effects on presidential activity; that is, the president may respond strategically to any impact that approval has on legislative decision making. Several studies indicate that higher approval increases presidents’ bargaining power with Congress, but that this encourages presidents to take on more ambitious legislative programs, which in turn decreases presidential approval as well as the likelihood of success on any particular legislative item (e.g., Ostrom and Simon 1985; Rivers and Rose 1985; Brace and Hinckley 1992). The second major finding is that the impact of popularity is conditional on political circumstances. For example, Canes-Wrone and de Marchi (2002) theorize and provide evidence that approval aids presidents only for issues that are publicly salient and “complex,” by which they mean issues on which citizens have little technical knowledge (e.g., Kuklinski, Metlay and Kay 1982). Other conditional effects are implied by work that distinguishes among legislators. Edwards (1980) finds that presidential popularity affects Senators more than House members,

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and Edwards (1989) suggests that the effects are limited to legislators who are not core supporters or opponents of the president. Bond and Fleisher (1990) also find that the impact depends on the preferences of the legislator; in particular, the impact is significantly positive only for fellow partisans who are “cross-pressured” in the sense of being ideologically incongruent with the heart of the party (i.e., a conservative Democrat or liberal Republican). 4 These findings from the literature on legislative politics have several implications for developing theory on how presidential approval affects the appointments process. The studies on differences across legislators suggest that preference divergence between the president and Senators may affect the impact of approval. For instance, when preferences are already highly convergent, approval may have a trivial effect because in this case the president will have little difficulty securing the confirmation of his preferred nominees regardless of personal popularity. A body of theory should therefore allow for the possibility of such effects (without, of course, simply assuming what these effects are). 5 Likewise, the research on issue salience and complexity indicates that these factors should be incorporated into theory. Finally, it would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of considering the president’s strategic response to
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Some empirical studies indicate that approval has no effect. However, most of these studies utilize

specifications that do not account for strategic presidential behavior or allow for conditional effects of popularity. Others examine different components of the politics of popularity. For instance, Cohen et al. (2000) show that Senators’ voting is not affected by state-level presidential approval.
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Correspondingly, partisan differences between the president and Senate may affect the impact of

personal approval on appointments. Because presidents are held more responsible than Congress for the functioning of the bureaucracy (Moe 1985b) and because partisan tides affect members’ electoral performance (e.g., Jacobson 1989), members of the out-party (the party not in the White House) arguably have incentives for the president to face difficulties in managing the bureaucracy.

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whatever effect approval has on congressional behavior. If, for instance, higher approval encouraged presidents to base nominations more on patronage than relevant experience, the likelihood of Congress supporting nominations might not change even though the type of nominee being confirmed would change substantially.

Theoretical Considerations regarding Administrative Politics In addition to factors suggested by the existing studies of presidential approval, three additional considerations about administrative politics seem especially worthy of mention. First, we need theory that accounts for the important role of delay in the confirmation process (McCarty and Razaghian 1999). A president’s personal approval may not only affect the probability of confirmation or choice of nominee, but also the delay between the time of a nomination and a vote for confirmation. With legislation, delay is less critical because legislation remains law once the president leaves office (unless struck down by subsequent legislation or the Supreme Court). With appointments, however, the president faces a more limited time-span in which congressional endorsement is useful; e.g., if a position remains open for a year, then the president loses twenty-five percent of the period during which that position might shape bureaucratic activity during the term. Second, we need theory that considers the use of patronage--whereby appointments are made primarily to reward supporters and loyalists. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the George W. Bush administration incurred criticism when it became public that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael Brown, had strong connections to the Bush

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campaign (Crowley and Johnson 2005). 6 Yet Bush is hardly the only recent president to reward major donors and campaign staffers with positions in the federal bureaucracy. Indeed, some types of appointments, such as ambassadorships and positions on advisory commissions, are known to be allocated on the basis of patronage (Lewis forthcoming). The bureaucracy literature, while acknowledging this phenomenon, too rarely addresses it systematically. 7 The existence of patronage may complicate the relationship between presidents’ approval and the appointments process. For instance, the impact of approval may differ for nominees whose primary qualification is donating a lot of money to the president’s campaign than ones with substantial backgrounds in the relevant policy areas. A seemingly reasonable possibility is that approval has a greater effect on congressional behavior for patronage-based appointments. Congress may see little value in confirming a nominee with little policy experience, but be willing to grant the president this courtesy when he is popular. By comparison, more qualified nominees may hold some appeal to legislators regardless of a president’s popularity. And if this speculation is correct, then presidents may make greater use of patronage when they are popular. Michael Brown, for instance, was appointed Director of FEMA in January 2003, when Bush’s approval ratings hovered around 60 percent. 8

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Brown rose to Director of FEMA after serving as Deputy Director and General Counsel of the agency.

However, critics charge his initial appointment was based on patronage rather than policy-relevant experience.
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See Pfiffner (1996[1988]) and Burke (2000; 2004) for work that concerns the role of patronage in

presidential transitions. Also see Lewis (forthcoming) for research on the relationship between patronage and presidents’ politicization of the bureaucracy.
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See http://www.galluppoll.com/content/default.aspx?ci=1723&pg=2. Accessed May 8, 2007.

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A final theoretical consideration further differentiates among types of nominees, in this case on the basis of the level of appointment. McCarty and Razaghian (1999) find that senatorial delay is more likely the lower the level of appointment. Department or agency heads are appointed more quickly than deputy or assistant secretaries, who are appointed more quickly than nominees for lower-tier positions. An argument consistent with these results is that the Senate views higher-level appointments as more essential to the basic functioning of government, and that therefore presidential approval has less influence on the confirmation politics surrounding higher-level positions. Of course, this seemingly intuitive claim—like the others I have put forth--is simply speculative, as I have not set forth a set of assumptions and derived predictions. Indeed, approval could help presidents more on higher-level appointments if the Canes-Wrone and de Marchi (2002) finding on salience applies to the politics of confirmations; in other words, approval may be more helpful to presidents on higher-level appointments given that they are more salient to the public. What is needed is theory and empirical analysis that can assess which of these and possibly other intuitive hypotheses are correct.

Empirical Considerations Absent specific hypotheses, it is exceedingly difficult to recommend a particular empirical strategy. I therefore want to briefly highlight two general considerations, each of which is implied by the preceding discussion. Perhaps the most obvious is that empirical work should not simply regress dependent variables regarding the appointments process—e.g., senatorial behavior or the president’s choice of nominees--on presidential approval without first developing theory about the conditions under which approval should affect that dependent variable. As discussed above, the impact of approval may be conditional on the type of appointment, degree

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of preference divergence between the president and Senate, or other factors. Accordingly, specifications that ignore these sorts of interactions and conditional relationships may obscure the important role that presidents’ popularity is playing in the process. Correspondingly, because approval may affect not only congressional but also presidential behavior, statistical tests may require techniques such as instrumental variables analysis, which can handle more than one dependent variable. The second empirical consideration involves a recommendation on data. In recent years some of the most innovative empirical analysis has involved producing or utilizing estimates of ideology for sets of nominees or appointees (Moe 1985a; Snyder and Weingast 2000; Chang 2003; Nixon 2004). Needed is equally innovative data analysis that utilizes individual-level characteristics related to the politics of patronage. For instance, there exist publicly available data on nominees’ political contributions and biographical characteristics. Such data could shed light on whether popularity encourages presidents to choose nominees on patronage-based qualities. Moreover, moving beyond research on presidential approval, data on patronage-related characteristics would be useful to the study of the administrative presidency more broadly.

Agency Creation and Public Opinion Over the past few decades, numerous studies have increased our understanding of the president’s role in agency creation. For the most part, these studies have focused on the influence of the president versus Congress or other elite-level actors (e.g., Moe and Wilson 1994; Howell and Lewis 2002). 9 Yet the notion that the mass public may affect agency creation via the president’s role in the process is consistent with, and even suggested by, some of this work. For
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See Lewis 2003 for an excellent review.

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instance, Moe (1989) describes how Nixon’s support for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) derived in a large part from popular demands for greater consumer protection. Notably, Moe also documents how Nixon and business groups designed the agencies to be ineffective; the president wanted to appear to be helping consumers yet design the agencies to be unproductive in practice. Likewise, Zegart (2004) argues that presidents can have the incentive to create presidential commissions simply to give the appearance of addressing issues. These studies indicate that presidential responsiveness to public opinion affects the size and structure of the bureaucracy. Yet we know little about the types of agencies and circumstances that are associated with such effects. Moreover, as with the topic of presidential approval, much of what we know comes from research that is not attentive to those matters that are central to the study of administrative politics.

Theoretical Considerations from Research on Presidential Responsiveness The literature on responsiveness to public opinion distinguishes between “substantive” and “symbolic” (Cohen 1997). 10 The former refers to situations in which the president aims to change the policy status quo; for instance, the president decides to support an increase in the minimum wage because the public supports this action. By comparison, symbolic responsiveness entails presidential efforts to convince the public that the White House is trying to solve certain

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Achen (1978) points out that responsiveness, i.e., where change in public opinion induces with change

in elected representatives’ positions or actions, is not the only normatively appealing concept of representation. Centrism and proximity, in particular, are alternatives. The literature has not found much evidence for these alternative types of representation in practice.

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problems. The president is rewarded for “doing things” to address critical problems independent of whether the “things” are associated with tangible policy developments. The president may not attempt to change the status quo or may even try to move it in the opposite direction. A good deal of recent scholarship has examined substantive responsiveness, and this literature suggests several political circumstances that affect the degree to which presidents will promote popular policies. 11 Various studies argue that the proximity of the next presidential election affects first-term presidents’ incentives for responsiveness (Jacobs and Shapiro 2000; Canes-Wrone and Shotts 2004). The type of issue also seems to have an effect. Erikson, MacKuen, and Stimson (2002) find that presidents are responsive on issues that correspond to the traditional left-right spectrum and Canes-Wrone and Shotts (2004) demonstrate that responsiveness is much higher on these than on other sorts of issues. 12 Finally, several studies indicate that presidents’ personal popularity may affect responsiveness, with presidents being most responsive when they have average approval ratings (Canes-Wrone and Shotts 2004; Canes-Wrone 2006; Rottinghaus 2006).

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A difficult issue in the study of presidential responsiveness, or any sort of elite-level responsiveness for

that matter, is disentangling whether a leader’s actions would have occurred regardless of public opinion (Page and Shapiro 1983). To various degrees the cited studies have made efforts to deal with this challenge, and space restrictions preclude delving into the ways in which each study has or has not addressed the issue.
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There exists some debate about the degree to which the overall level of substantive responsiveness is

high or low. Cohen (1997) and Jacobs and Shapiro (2000) argue that it is low and Erikson, MacKuen, and Stimson (2002) that it is high. Also, Gilens (2005) suggests that responsiveness to mass opinion is largely limited to issues on which high- and middle-income individuals hold similar views.

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By contrast, research on symbolic responsiveness has not predicted variation according to political circumstances. In fact, the thrust this work is that presidents, and other politicians, have strong and pervasive incentives to appear to be working on problems that voters care about. Cohen (1997), for instance, provides evidence that presidents devote more public attention to issues that voters consider the “most important problem” and categorizes this behavior as symbolic responsiveness. At the same time, Cohen finds that presidents’ policy positions are not affected by voters’ preferences. Consistent with these claims, Edelman’s (1964) study of symbolic politics argues that politicians devise policies to address issues of popular concern but not promote voters’ interests. Fittingly, Edelman’s paradigmatic case is the administrative state, which he claims gives the impression of addressing problems the public cares about but routinely works against voters’ interests. 13 Edelman does not, however, focus on identifying when and how mass opinion affects the structure of the bureaucracy. These studies of substantive and symbolic responsiveness offer a few guidelines for developing a body of theory about how public opinion affects agency creation. First, theory should incorporate the possibility that the relationship may be conditional on factors including the electoral cycle, a president’s personal popularity, and the type of issue. Second, it will need to distinguish between public concern about a general issue and public opinion about specific policy goals. A president may be willing to establish an agency that addresses, say, environmental policy if voters are concerned about the environment yet not necessarily an

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Edelman focuses particularly on regulatory agencies. Building off of the work of his contemporaries, he

emphasizes that agencies tend to aid the very businesses they are supposed to be regulating. Edelman’s contribution is to view this occurrence as an example of the broader phenomenon of symbolic politics.

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agency that promotes the sort of government action that the voters desire. In other words, agency creation may be symbolic or substantive. What determines whether a new agency is likely to serve substantive versus symbolic purposes? Research on administrative politics provides some guidance.

Theoretical Considerations regarding Administrative Politics If there is one consistent argument in recent work on administrative politics, it is that the design of an agency has major policy implications. Factors such as the president’s control over firing officials, whether the agency is head by a bi-partisan board or an individual, and the location of the agency within the bureaucracy all affect the extent to which a president can influence the agency and consequently the types of policies it will produce. Other procedural matters--such as whether the agency must produce a cost-benefit analysis before making a rule, whether it must respond to requests from interest groups within a specified time frame, and the ease with which interest groups and regulated parties can sue bureaucrats--also have major policy implications. There is a good deal of debate about the degree to which Congress, the president, or interest groups determine agency design (e.g., McCubbins, Noll, and Weingast 1987; Moe 1989; Lewis 2003), but few if any contest that what Moe calls “bureaucratic structure” affects the policy effects of an agency. This research suggests that theory on agency creation should incorporate the politics of agency design. If, for instance, the president will have a good deal of control over the structure of a new bureaucratic entity, then his incentives to respond to public opinion—either in a purely symbolic or substantive way—are almost certainly going to be different than if Congress and/or interest groups will largely determine the structure. Likewise, the politics of agency design could

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affect whether the president even has the capacity to achieve substantive responsiveness (in terms of policy outcomes); if interest groups, Congress, and the president have wildly divergent policy goals, then the agreed-upon design may encourage the agency to be ineffective regardless of the president’s intentions (Moe 1989). A second and related theoretical consideration is that presidents can sometimes create agencies unilaterally rather than through legislation. Howell and Lewis (2002, 1097) note that presidents justify such unilateral behavior by “some combination of constitutional powers, vague statutes, or expressed delegations of power.” As with unilateral action more generally, the limits of this capacity are not well-defined. Still, given that agencies such as the National Security Council and Peace Corps have originated through these means, it seems reasonable to speculate that this capacity may affect a president’s incentives for agency creation. The possibility of unilateral action may, for example, give presidents a particularly strong incentive to engage in symbolic responsiveness; a reelection-seeking president could unilaterally establish an agency that will supposedly address a pressing public concern, and worry about the details of bureaucratic structure if he returns to office. Indeed, it is tempting to conjecture that most agencies have been created for symbolic purposes. Yet we know that presidents establish agencies for reasons other than symbolic ones— for instance, to provide information and/or to encourage workable bargains among conflicting interests (e.g., Zegart 2004). And it seems difficult to believe that presidents always react to public concern about a particular issue by creating an agency. What makes presidents do so in some circumstances but not others? And when will agency creation involve substantive rather than symbolic responsiveness to public opinion? These are the sorts of questions that theory can help address.

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Empirical Considerations Empirical analysis of these sorts of questions will involve several data-related challenges. One is the gathering of data on public concern about a variety of policy issues over time. Survey items on public concern have traditionally taken two forms: “most important problem” questions in which respondents list a specified number (typically one to three) of what they consider to be the most critical problems the nation faces, and “issue importance” questions that ask respondents to rank how important they belief a particular issue is. The most important problem series has been asked repeatedly over time, and the standard version involves open-ended responses. Because of these desirable features, studies of responsiveness have often utilized these data (e.g., Cohen 1997). On the other hand, issue importance questions have the advantage of enabling citizens to specify more than a few issues as critically important. The major disadvantage is that survey organizations have not generally asked about a large set of issues over time. However, the recently developed Public Agendas & Citizen Engagement Survey (e.g., Shanks et al. 2005) has taken on this task. A second challenge is the coding of symbolic versus substantive responsiveness, and in particular, the degree to which an agency is likely to produce policies desired by the public. Survey data on citizens’ issue positions are more readily available than data on public concern. However, estimating agency preferences is far from straightforward. In recent work Clinton and Lewis (2007) develop estimates of the liberalism of 82 executive agencies using a multirater item response model that combines ratings from academics and policy experts with objective agency characteristics. This sort of approach could be used to assess the degree to which an agency moved policy in the direction desired by the public.

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Discussion and Conclusion I have argued that one cannot understand administrative politics without understanding how presidents’ public relations influence these politics. In doing so, I have employed examples and speculative hypotheses to highlight that this subject is not only important in its own right, but also has major implications for the size and performance of the bureaucracy. If, for instance, presidents create some agencies simply to show that they are “doing something” to the public, then these agencies may function far less effectively than ones designed to achieve particular goals. Likewise, if presidents use high approval ratings to push through nominees whose primary qualification is having worked on a campaign, then we should not be surprised if many appointees of highly popular presidents are associated with poor bureaucratic performance. Hopefully these sorts of potential implications, as well as the other potential implications discussed throughout the paper, encourage at least a few readers to undertake research that would illuminate how the public presidency affects bureaucratic politics. While my focus has been on presidents’ public relations, the discussion has produced insights that apply more generally to the study of the administrative presidency. The importance of new theory, in particular, is something that cannot be overemphasized. This is not only because theory can inform the structure of empirical analysis, but also due to the range of agencies and appointees. Many empirical studies of presidential-bureaucratic relations focus on a small set of agencies or appointees due to the inherent difficulties in collecting bureaucracyrelated data. Absent any theory, such studies can boil down to information about agencies X and Z. With theory, however, such studies provide general expectations about whether and how the results should vary for different types of agencies.

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An additional general consideration regards the utilization of knowledge from the literature on legislative politics. Over the past forty years, that literature has undergone the sort of development that this set of papers is designed to provoke in the study of administrative politics. Certainly there is much to learn from influential congressional scholarship. Yet as the discussion of presidential approval underscored, scholars need to be attentive to the many ways in which administrative and legislative politics differ. “Details” such as senators’ incentives to delay votes on confirmation and presidents’ motivations to use appointments for patronage are what make the study of bureaucracy distinct. As we move forward in developing more systematic knowledge, we need to remain attentive to the essential features of administrative politics.

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