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Alternative Futures: Comment on Terry Moe's “The Revolution in Presidential Studies”


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this paper while I was a visiting senior research scholar, 2008-2009, at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University. I want to thank Charles Cameron, Brandice Canes-Wrone, Milan Svolik, and Jessica Trounstine for helping me clarify the thoughts presented here.

Jeffrey E. Cohen is a professor of political science at Fordham University. His books include The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News and Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age.


In “The Revolution in Presidential Studies,” Terry Moe suggests that bounded rationality and computational and agent-based modeling should become the core for future research on the presidency. I suggest other, perhaps complementary, directions for future research: (1) a greater integration of theories on the institutional presidency with those on the public presidency; (2) a broader and more comparative approach to studying political executives instead of the current parochial focus on the American presidency; and (3) a large-scale, cooperative data collection effort that parallels such efforts in other subfields, which has reinvigorated those subfields, attracted students, and allowed for more ambitious research questions and designs.