Policy Experts in Presidential Campaigns: A Model of Think Tank Recruitment

By Abelson, Donald E.; Carberry, Christine M. | Presidential Studies Quarterly, Fall 1997 | Go to article overview

Policy Experts in Presidential Campaigns: A Model of Think Tank Recruitment


Abelson, Donald E., Carberry, Christine M., Presidential Studies Quarterly


Throughout the 1996 presidential campaign, candidates drew on the advice of academics, party members, former government officials, pollsters, consultants, business leaders, and union and interest group representatives. Moreover, as in previous campaigns, they also relied on scholars from policy research institutions or think tanks as they are commonly referred to, to help them identify, develop, and present policy ideas. Indeed, even a year before the 1996 presidential election, close ties had been established between several presidential candidates and a handful of think tanks.(1) Pat Buchanan's long-time association with the Illinois-based Rockford Institute,(2) Alan Keyes' personal and professional relationship with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Bob Dole's(3) ongoing interaction with a number of Washington-based think tanks including, though by no means limited to, AEI and the Heritage Foundation, suggested at the very least, that a number of presidential candidates would be turning to think tanks for policy advice.

The purpose of this study, however, is not to identify those think tanks that captured the attention of presidential candidates during the 1996 campaign, nor is it to trace the career patterns of think tank scholars who served or are currently serving in the Clinton administration.(4) Rather, the purpose of this article is to explain why and under what conditions presidential candidates have, and will likely continue, to solicit actively the advice of think tanks.

This article argues that two characteristics of presidential candidates--their status as a Washington insider or outsider and the strength of their ideological views as approximated by voter election studies--can help to explain the recruitment patterns of think tanks by candidates. More specifically, this study explains why candidates are drawn to think tanks during presidential campaigns and why some candidates are attracted to advocacy rather than traditional policy research institutions for information and advice.(5) Our model is applied to the five presidential elections since 1976, the time period in which many advocacy think tanks rose to prominence. Of our ten case studies, our model explains the use of think tanks by eight presidential nominees.

This study contributes to the growing literature on think tanks and their role in American politics. Most of the research in this area has tended to be largely descriptive.(6) Other than providing an institutional profile of think tanks, few scholars have examined their behavior and impact in the political arena in a systematic fashion. This article seeks to move beyond the level of description to a more analytical focus on the relationship between think tanks and presidential candidates. Although the literature on interest group activity in American politics is well documented, think tanks and policy research institutions represent another form of policy influence requiring further examination. In addition, our theoretical framework allows for future comparative studies of candidates and think tanks in other countries.

In the first section of this study, a brief discussion of how and why think tanks have become firmly embedded in the policy-making process will be provided. Although the size of their budgets and the scope of their research programs vary considerably,(7) think tanks appear to be motivated by the same goal--to influence public opinion and public policy. The desire and capabilities of think tanks to provide policy advice to presidential candidates has increased dramatically in recent decades; however, candidates have not automatically taken advantage of this resource. While some presidential candidates have relied extensively on these institutions to help define and reinforce their policy platforms and administration goals, others have been less than enthusiastic about surrounding themselves with think tank scholars.(8) This uneven pattern of think tank recruitment by presidential candidates invites the following question: why do some candidates rely on think tanks more than others? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Policy Experts in Presidential Campaigns: A Model of Think Tank Recruitment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.