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Expand chart
Data: Partnership for Public Service: Center for Presidential Transition. Data for Trump includes departures over roughly two years and eight months. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Donald Trump has lost 41% of the Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and under secretaries he appointed in his first year in office, new data from the Partnership for Public Service‘s Center for Presidential Transition shows.

Why it matters: This far outpaces the turnover rate for recent predecessors at the same stage of their presidencies — and underscores the challenges Trump may face in recruiting and retaining a new stable of top officials if he wins re-election.

Details: The center, which is launching its 2020 program Thursday, looked at historical turnover data for high-level positions requiring Senate confirmation from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, each of whom was elected to a second term.

  • Each had lower turnover levels than Trump at this point in their tenure, measured across 15 Cabinet-level departments.
  • Each also saw a spike in resignations in Year 5, typical as first-term officials reach levels of exhaustion and incumbents seek fresh eyes and energy, the center's new director David Marchick told Axios.
  • On average, 43% of top officials serving near the end of the first term left within the first six months after the incumbent presidents’ re-elections.
  • But Trump’s turnover is already nearly that high, less than 3 years in.

Between the lines: How a president fills the roughly 4,000 politically appointed positions, more than 1,200 of which require Senate confirmation, is crucial to the administration's success. The 2020 Democratic challenger could face filling all of those appointments. And Trump could see another wave of departures if he’s re-elected, similar to past presidents.

  • "Unless you do all the prep work, you are going to wind up slow to start," Max Stier, president and CEO of the organization, told Axios. "You can't be an effective president if you're not ready."
  • The center has provided support to presidential hopefuls and incumbents as they prepare for a new or second-term administration.
  • Their 2020 kickoff event Thursday afternoon will feature a discussion with former Bush and Obama chiefs of staff Joshua Bolten and Denis McDonough.

Go deeper: Every high-profile Trump administration departure

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

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