Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 November 2018
We maintain that political institutions’ policy objectives are best met under conditions when they are unified, and also when their administrative leadership is effective. We apply this argument to the understanding of how unified Democratic and Republican governments in the American states have influenced the incomes of affluent citizens. We find that affluent income gains occur under unified Republican state governments when compensation to executive agency heads is sufficiently high. These income gains are notable relative to both divided and unified partisan control of state governments. The evidence highlights the asymmetric role that bureaucratic leadership plays in attaining policy outcomes consistent with political institutions’ policy preferences, while underscoring the limits of electoral institutions to shape policy outcomes of their own accord. Efforts to lower the capacity of the administrative leadership constrain unified political institutions from converting their policy objectives into policy outcomes.
Much earlier (and quite different) versions of this article have been presented at the annual meeting of the State Politics & Policy Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington, 15−17 May 2014, Conference in Honor of Norman Schofield, Washington University, St. Louis, Friday, 27 April 2013, the University of Pittsburgh’s Research in American Politics Seminar, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Applied Microeconomics Workshop.