Two Vanderbilt undergraduates had the rare opportunity in April to present their research findings about the influence of patronage on presidential appointments and government performance at the 2010 Midwest Political Science Association Conference.
Nick Gallo, a political science major who graduated in May, and Gabe Horton, a rising senior with a double major in political science and religious studies, were mentored by Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science David Lewis.
“This has been incredibly impressive for two undergraduate students to produce and then present research findings at a national political science conference,” Lewis says. “About 99 percent of the other presenters there were either faculty or graduate students.”
Horton’s research was funded through the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program, while Gallo received support from the College of Arts and Science.
Horton and Lewis are the co-authors of “Turkey Farms and Dead Pools: Competence and Connections in Obama Administration Appointments.” “Turkey farms” and “dead pools” are colloquial terms for government agencies where presidents tend to make appointments based on political connection rather than job competence. Gallo wrote “Patronage and Appointee Management Performance,” which focuses on the impact of patronage appointments during the Bush administration on various agencies’ effectiveness. Gallo and Horton will submit their research to peer-reviewed academic journals for possible publication at a later date.