Presidential Win Rates

Agency win rates have declined over time, both by presidential administration and presidential term.

Last updated 06/21/2024.
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Agency win rates declined across all administrations included in our study. When looking at challenged major rules addressed in an opinion, the Clinton Administration had the highest win rate: 63.0% of its major rules entirely withstood challenge. Each subsequent administration saw a lower win rate than the preceding administration, with a much starker decline for the Trump Administration. (Initial Biden Administration results show a win rate somewhat higher than that of the Trump administration.)

There was also a downward trend in agency win rates by presidential term. (The first term of the Clinton Administration is excluded here because of its small number of observations.) Notably, two-term presidents saw higher win rates for major rules issued in their second term. The exact reason for the fluctuation is unclear. Regardless of the reason, the data suggests that studies of agency win rates may produce skewed results if they look at challenges to agency actions issued during only one of two presidential terms. It may also be more apt to compare one-term administrations with the first term of other administrations. Doing so makes the Trump Administration’s low win rate appear less stark, though it is still lower than other first terms with full data.