The “Hidden Hand” and White House Roll-Call Predictions: Legislative Liaison in the Eisenhower White House, 83d-84th Congresses


  • AUTHORS' NOTE: This is a revised version of a paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Atlanta, Georgia, January 4-7, 2006.

Richard S. Conley is associate professor of political science at the University of Florida. His interests include the presidency, Congress, and comparative executives and legislatures. He is the author of The Presidency, Congress and Divided Government: A Post-War Assessment.
Richard M. Yon completed his Master's degree in political science at Florida Atlantic University in 2004 and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Florida. His areas of interest are the American presidency, Congress, and international relations. He has written or coauthored several book chapters, journal articles, and book reviews on the presidency. He recently coedited an encyclopedia on the presidency, which was published by Salem Press in 2006.


This article offers a fresh perspective into the Eisenhower administration's attempts to predict and influence roll-call outcomes in Congress during the transition from Republican to Democratic control following the midterm elections of 1954. Analysis of archival data uncovered at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, provides insight into a different facet of Eisenhower's “hidden-hand presidency” and early efforts to systematize congressional liaison. Using headcount data assembled by the Legislative Liaison Unit, this research assesses the accuracy of forecasts of presidential legislative support in the House of Representatives. A multinomial logit model is developed to account for the basis of successful and unsuccessful White House estimates of members' positions. On the subset of votes the White House found difficult to predict, the empirical model highlights that the least accurate forecasts of individual members' positions are best explained by constituency factors, partisan politicking, and disunity in the Republican House Conference.