Party Fundraising, Descriptive Representation, and the Battle for Majority Control: Shifting Leadership Appointment Strategies in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1990–2002


  • *Direct correspondence to Eric Heberlig, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223 〈〉. Data for replication are available. The authors thank J. Mark Wrighton, brown-bag participants at UNCC, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2005 Annual Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association.


Objective. Analyze the long-term, coalition-building versus short-term, fundraising strategies in leadership appointments by party leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Methods. Estimate a logistic regression model of leadership appointments in the U.S. House from 1990 to 2002.

Results. The expensive battle for majority party control that followed the 1994 House elections prompted leaders to balance descriptive representational concerns with fundraising ability in making appointments to the extended leadership organization. This represents a shift from the pre-1994 period, when—absent an intense battle for control of the House—leaders gave greater weight to descriptive representation in making appointments.

Conclusions. Congressional party leaders make appointments in part in response to the external political environment and their appointment strategies adapt as the environment changes.