Advice and Consent in the Spotlight: Partisan and Media Influences in Confirmation Hearings
Abstract: I develop a model of confirmation hearing that pinpoints the trade-off induced by polarization and the media's role. Polarization hinders the president's ability to push through confirmation of a nominee with questionable reputation by increasing the senator's cost of holding a thorough hearing and decreasing the president's ability to mask the nominee's dirt---this screening costs the president political capital and incentivizes her to put forth a less qualified nominee if her party does not control the Senate. A greater media involvement bridges the partisan divide in the Senate. The benefit of adversarial political environment increases, while the induced preference for a less qualified nominee decreases. The improved selection, however, comes at the cost of more political capital expenditure by the president. My findings highlight obstacles in empirical analysis of confirmation politics.