MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Tuesday she’ll step down at the end of the year.
That makes her the sixth Cabinet member to leave President Trump’s cabinet since he took office less than two years ago. That had Henry from St. Paul wanting to know: How does that turnover compare to other presidents? Good Question.
There are 24 people in President Trump’s cabinet – from Secretary of State to the Attorney General to the director of the CIA. That’s the same number as President Obama, two more than President George W. Bush and seven more than President Reagan.
“Sometimes presidents will say we’re not going to fill all those positions or ask for an expansion or shrinkage,” says David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University. “Remember we didn’t always have the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security.”
The average tenure of a Cabinet member is two to three years. Mid-terms are often a time that Cabinet members decide to step aside. There’s also generally significant turnover when a President starts his second term.
“What we forget is that these are high-burnout jobs,” says Schultz. “They’re not working 40-hour work weeks, they’re working 50, 60, 70 hours a week.”
Departures within the first two years are more rare. In his 21 months in office, President Trump has had more Cabinet members leave compare to other recent presidents at the same points in their tenure. Obama had three, George W. Bush had one, Clinton had two, George H.W. Bush had zero and Reagan had one.
“He’s probably a little higher than we’ve seen for recent presidents but he’s not significantly out of line,” says Schultz.
Schultz says turnover isn’t necessarily a bad thing as presidential priorities change and people figure out if they’re a good fit.
“The question that becomes is does it affect policy-making,” says Schultz. “That’s a matter of political debate.”
Very few Cabinet members make it all eight years. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack served the entirety (minus one week) of President Obama’s two terms. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy John Walters stayed on for President Bush’s two terms.
The Cabinet position with the highest turnover is Chief of Staff. Each of the last five Presidents has averaged between three and four.