Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 12, 2021

Presidential Home Style: Trump in the Era of COVID-19

Marion R. Just, Joseph Saraceno and Ann N. Crigler
From the journal The Forum


In Homestyle: House Members in their Districts (1978) Richard Fenno argued that members of Congress utilize different “home styles” when communicating with various segments of their constituency. These tailored, face-to-face interactions help build trust, are essential to the reelection effort, and shape member behavior once in office. In this paper, we reconfigure and extend Fenno’s theory to help explain presidential (in)action in the digital age. By analyzing President Trump’s daily press briefings and social media presence during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we argue that just as a representative’s home style carries over into governance, the same can be said for a president in what we have called “presidential home styles.” We find that the characteristics that made Trump a successful campaigner in the 2016 election are not conducive to effective governance, especially during a crisis.

Corresponding author: Ann N. Crigler, Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA, E-mail:


American Psychiatric Association, ed. 2013. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.: American Psychiatric Association.10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596Search in Google Scholar

Abramowitz, A., and J. McCoy. 2018. “United States: Racial Resentment, Negative Partisanship, and Polarization in Trump’s America.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.10.1177/0002716218811309Search in Google Scholar

Bond, P. 2016. “Leslie Moonves on Donald Trump: It May Not Be Good for America, but It’s Damn Good for CBS.” Hollywood Reporter. (accessed July 29, 2020).Search in Google Scholar

Bump, P. 2019. “The Expansive, Repetitive Universe of Trump’s Twitter Insults ….” Washington Post. Also available at in Google Scholar

Bump, P. 2020. “Not only is Trump’s Approval Rating Not 96 Percent, Energy Appears to be slipping. Washington Post. Also available at in Google Scholar

Burns, A., J. Martin, and M. Haberman. 2020, Updated July 23, 2020. “As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Break Ranks.” The New York Times. (accessed July 27, 2020).Search in Google Scholar

CNN. 2020a. August 1, 2020. Also available at in Google Scholar

CNN. 2020b. August 4, 2020. Also available at in Google Scholar

C-SPAN Video. 2020. July 7, 2020. “Kellyanne Conway Speaks to Reporters.” Also available at in Google Scholar

Enli, G. 2017. “Twitter as Arena for the Authentic Outsider: Exploring the Social Media Campaigns of Trump and Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Election.” European Journal of Communication 32 (1): 50–61, in Google Scholar

Fenno, R. 1977. “U.S. House Members in Their Constituencies: An Exploration.” American Political Science Review 71 (3): 883–917, in Google Scholar

Fenno, R. 1978. Home Style: House Members and Their Districts. Boston, MA: Little Brown & Co.Search in Google Scholar

Grynbaum, M. M. 2020. “Trump’s Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?” The New York Times. (accessed July 29, 2020).Search in Google Scholar

Just, M., and A. Crigler. 2020. “Populism: The Achilles Heel of Democracy.” In Perspectives on Populism and the Media, edited by C. Holtz-Bacha, and B. Kramer. Baden-Baden: Nomos.10.5771/9783845297392-125Search in Google Scholar

Just, M., A. Crigler, W. Hua, and J. Timm. 2017. Narcissism in the Quest for Legitimacy: Trump’s Tweets from 2015 to 2017. In Paper presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, 2017.Search in Google Scholar

Karni, A., and D. G. McNeilJr. 2020. “Trump Wants U.S. ‘Opened up’ by Easter, Despite Health Officials’ Warnings.” The New York Times. Also available at in Google Scholar

Mayhew, D. R. 1974. Congress: The Electoral Connection. New Haven: Yale University Press.Search in Google Scholar

McDermott, R. 2008. Presidential Leadership, Illness, and Decision Making. New York: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511756177Search in Google Scholar

McDevitt, M., and P. Ferrucci. 2018. Populism, Journalism, and the Limits of Reflexivity” Journalism Studies 19 (4): 512–26, in Google Scholar

McVeigh, R., and K. Estep. 2019. The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment. New York: Columbia University Press.10.7312/mcve19006Search in Google Scholar

Mutz, D., 2018. “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (19): E4330–9, in Google Scholar

Nutt, A. E. 2016. “Is Donald Trump a Textbook Narcissist?” Washington Post. Also available at…/is-donald-trump-a-textbook- narcissist/.Search in Google Scholar

Parker, A., and P. Rucker. 2020. “One Question Still Dogs Trump: Why Not Try Harder to Solve the Coronavirus Crisis?” Washington Post. (accessed July 27, 2020).Search in Google Scholar

Pew Fact Tank. 2020. July 22, 2020. Also available at in Google Scholar

Post, J. M. 1993. “Current Concepts of the Narcissistic Personality: Implications for Political Psychology.” Political Psychology 14 (1): 99–121, in Google Scholar

Post, J. M. 2004. “The Impact of Crisis-Induced Stress on Policy Makers.” In Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior, edited by J. M. Post, 100–22. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Posen, D. E., and K. L. Scheppele. 2020. “Executive Underreach, in Pandemics and Otherwise.” American Journal of International Law. SSRN-id3649816%20Exec%20Underreach.pdf.(forthcoming).10.1017/ajil.2020.59Search in Google Scholar

Rieger, J. M. (videographer). 2020. “Twenty-two Times Trump Said the Corona Virus Would Just Go Away.” Washington Post Politics Video. Also available at in Google Scholar

RollCall.comNews Briefing,” (accessed January 05, 2020).Search in Google Scholar

Romm, J. 2016. “Flawed Individuals Will Victimize You: Top FBI Profilers Lessons on Extreme Narcissists like Trump.” Salon. Also available at in Google Scholar

Rosenthal, S. A., and T. L. Pittinsky. 2006. “Narcissistic Leadership.” The Leadership Quarterly 17 (6): 617–33, in Google Scholar

Satow, R. 2016. “Trump and Narcissism: The Renewed Interest in an Old Concept.” Psychology Today. Also available at in Google Scholar

Swan, J. 2020. “HBO Axios Interview with President Trump.” Also available at in Google Scholar

Weaver, R. 1986. “The Politics of Blame Avoidance.” Journal of Public Policy 6 (4): 371–98. (accessed July 16, 2020).10.2307/j.ctv1mjqv11.18Search in Google Scholar

Woodward, B. 2020. Rage. New York: Simon & Schuster.Search in Google Scholar

Zaller, J. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Public Opinions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511818691Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2021-02-12

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston