Targeting the Treatment: The Strategy Behind Lyndon Johnson's Lobbying

Matthew N. Beckmann
Neilan S. Chaturvedi
Jennifer Rosa, Oberlin College


Lyndon Johnson woke up studying whip counts, went to bed reading the Congressional Record, and invested countless hours in between translating that political intelligence into a lobbying offensive. The result, famously christened “The Johnson Treatment,” remains the archetype practitioners and political scientists cite when appraising presidential leadership on Capitol Hill. Yet Beltway folklore aside, we know little about how LBJ helped forge winning legislative coalitions. Stepping back from the (countless) colorful anecdotes, this study offers a new and systematic look at Lyndon Johnson's lobbying. Specifically, after exploring theoretical models of presidential coalition building, we then investigate their operational tenets using original data on all President Johnson's contacts, with each member of Congress, in both chambers, for every day he was president.