A Delicate Balance: Party Branding During the 2013 Government Shutdown

Andreu Casas Salleras, John Wilkerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strong party brands help congressional parties elect candidates, maintain or gain majority control, and advance their policy agendas. Because successful branding efforts depend on consistent messaging, party leaders try to choose issues that most members are willing to promote. But what do leaders do when a party majority pressures them to take up issues that harm the brand for others? We investigate the 2013 government shutdown as a branding event. House Republican leaders instigated the shutdown after learning that a majority of Republicans would not vote for a clean funding bill. However, instead of highlighting the issues that led to the shutdown, they publicized the party’s efforts to resolve it. Party leaders sought to exploit the fact that party brands have both position and valence components to simultaneously address the demands of the party base and the electoral concerns of members representing competitive districts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-812
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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