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The Authorities Really Do Matter: Party Control and Trust in Government

Authors

  • Luke Keele

    Corresponding author
    1. Oxford University The Ohio State University
      Luke Keele (luke.keele@politics.ox.ac.uk) is Post-Doctoral Fellow in Quantitative Methods, Nuffield College and Oxford University, Oxford, OX1 2RL and assistant professor of political science, The Ohio State University.
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Luke Keele (luke.keele@politics.ox.ac.uk) is Post-Doctoral Fellow in Quantitative Methods, Nuffield College and Oxford University, Oxford, OX1 2RL and assistant professor of political science, The Ohio State University.

Abstract

For some time, one line of research on trust in government has stressed that trust results from evaluations of the institutions of government. Here, trust reflects public sentiments toward the responsiveness of the political process. Another line of research has alternatively countered that trust tends to be a reflection of political leaders. But this research has been largely unable to demonstrate that the performance of authorities matters relative to evaluations of the political process. Changes in partisan control of Congress and the presidency, however, provides us with a natural experiment where authorities change while the political process is constant. Here, partisans should trust government more when their party controls Congress, the presidency, or both. I find that trust does respond to changes in partisan control of the Congress and presidency, which demonstrates that the effect of authorities matters relative to evaluations of the political process.

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