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Nominations for sale

Console Battilana, Silvia and Shepsle, Kenneth (2006): Nominations for sale.

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Models of nomination politics in the US often find "gridlock" in equilibrium because of the super-majority requirement in the Senate for the confirmation of presidential nominees. A blocking coalition often prefers to defeat any nominee. Yet empirically nominations are successful. In the present paper we explore the possibility that senators can be induced to vote contrary to their nominal (gridlock-producing) preferences through contributions from the president and/or lobbyists, thus breaking the gridlock and confirming the nominee. We model contributions by the president and lobbyists according to whether payment schedules are conditioned on the entire voting profile, the vote of a senator, or the outcome. We analyze several extensions to our baseline approach, including the possibility that lobbyists may find it more productive to offer inducements to the president in order to affect his proposal behavior, rather than trying to induce senators to vote for or against a given nominee.

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