Game Theory and the Study of the American Presidency

Brandice Canes‐Wrone

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238859
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Game Theory and the Study of the American Presidency

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Economy



This article describes how game theory has contributed to the understanding of the American presidency as well as how future research could use this technique to advance the understanding even further. The three topics covered here include presidential vetoes, public opinion, and Supreme Court nominations. It also determines several additional areas that seem especially suitable for new game theoretic analysis. Additionally, special attention is given to the limitations of game theory. The data shows how blame game theory can help identify personal versus institutional determinants of veto usage. Game theoretic models of vetoes have not only aided econometric analysis, but also qualitative empirical work. A more detailed description of how game theory has altered the substantive understanding of public opinion is offered. Simple differences in the assumptions of the models can produce vastly different predictions; thus it would be a shame if the theories were only produced by ‘outsiders’ to the field.

Keywords: game theory; American presidency; presidential vetoes; public opinion; Supreme Court nominations; game theoretic models

Article.  9624 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Economy

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