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The President Will See Whom Now? Presidential Engagement with Organized Interests

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2022

East Tennessee State University, United States
David Ryan Miller, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, East Tennessee State University, United States,


Though presidents often criticize organized interests, presidents also expend considerable effort engaging them. Using original elite interviews, a survey of lobbyists, and administrative data, I consider how this engagement manifests, why presidents engage interests, and with which interests presidents engage. Unlike in other institutions, presidents exercise substantial control over engagement with interests, and they engage to mobilize interests’ institutional resources in service of their goals. To optimize mobilization, presidents focus engagement on well-resourced interests and interests who share presidents’ preferences. Pairing over seven million White House visitor log entries from two administrations with lobbying and campaign finance records, I demonstrate that presidential engagement is informed by interests’ electoral and policy resources and partisan alignment, though these characteristics’ substantive effects are modest. My findings highlight coalition building with interests as an underappreciated source of presidential power and elucidate the degree to which presidents amplify the political voice of well-resourced and copartisan interests.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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