Divided Plural Executives: Examining the Where, the Why, and the Do They Even Matter




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Divided government is traditionally viewed at both the federal and state level as an executive branch controlled by one party, while the opposing party controls the legislative branch, either in part or totally. This traditional division, however, is not the only possible instance of divided government at the state level that could be viewed as concerning in terms of government production and policy implementation. The presence of a plural executive is unique to state level governments, and the power possessed by these officials varies from state to state. However, over 60% of states elect at least three executive branch positions outside of the governor and lieutenant governor in a given year lending credence to the possibility that the same voters are electing a divided plural executive. Not only does the possibility exist, but in approximately, 30% of states, at least one division is currently in place. In a time of extreme partisanship within the federal government, why would voters split their votes among parties for the executive branch in the same election? What type of impact does the presence of a division have on the budget of these divided departments, and how might their use of power differ from unified plural executives? Each of these questions is to be examined within this dissertation by using borrowed theories from traditional divided government and original coded and gathered data. Significant support is found indicating the likelihood of divided plural executives can be explaining in large part by the incumbency advantage. If division is in place, division is likely to continue. However, traditional divided government literature is not sufficient to explain the first instance of this division. While anecdotal evidence makes clear the relationships between divided plural executives can be quite contentious, the quantitative examination of budget data provides no support for the theory that governors will be less likely to support the budgets of executive officials of different parties.



Divided government, Federal government--United States, Governors, State governments--United States, Budget--United States--States



©2019 Adrienne E. Gathman. All Rights Reserved.