This paper posits that a great deal of cross-national variation in clientelistic investment strategies can be explained through an examination of the different forms of risk faced by the political elite of different types of regimes. It also maintains that demand from clients/potential clients is, by itself, insufficient to explain the level or scope of clientelistic investments. The argument is advanced through an examination of the linkages (and non-linkages) between patrons/potential patrons and clients/potential clients amongst the ethnic Uzbek populations of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan, a semi-authoritarian state, electoral risk predominates; however, the character of electoral risk in Kyrgyzstan provides Uzbek members of the political elite with an incentive to diversify their clientelistic investments. Consequently, many engage in direct exchanges with their constituents while simultaneously investing in private, cultural organizations that serve party-like functions. Alternatively, in contemporary Tajikistan, best described as an authoritarian state, electoral risk has been replaced with the risk of expulsion from the presidential clientelistic network. As a result, members of the Tajikistani political elite have a disincentive to publicly invest in constituent clients as this investment may increase the risk of expulsion.