Washington, D.C. Feature


D.C.'s Party Animals: Staffers

General Description

Prolific species endemic to the Washington area; similar species are present in state capitals throughout the country, but the Washington staffer is notably more rapacious. Republican and Democratic subspecies are distinct; Congressional, White House, and departmental varieties are less so, due in part to migration between offices every two to four years.

Identifying Marks

BlackBerry or iPhone; security badge, usually worn around neck. Dark suits, bland ties, hair neatly coiffed. Republican subspecies have been harder to find in the past few years and the males have extremely neat hair; Democratic subspecies is younger, with big idealistic eyes.


The bulk of the staffer's diet is coffee, but it also consumes takeout and martinis. Although staffers are technically omnivores, their actual intake depends on their environment and which other species are present. A staffer may eat lo mein with legislators or lobster with lobbyists, or both, in the same day.


Like other political species, staffers tend to stick close to the Capitol and White House during the day, although they can also be spotted at the Union Pub and the Capital Grille at lunchtime. After hours, the best places to watch Republican staffers are Bullfeathers, Tune Inn, and Tortilla Coast, all on the Hill. Democratic staffers now enjoying proximity to the White House can be found at Potenza's bar, La Bar at the Sofitel Hotel, and BlackFinn. George in Georgetown is also popular among both species, for those with the financial means. As populations of GOP and Democratic staffers shift, turf wars sometimes erupt; observe Democratic staffers moving in on Republican territory at the Capital Lounge on the Hill, and the reverse at Stetson's, in Adams Morgan.


Remarkably intelligent and adaptable, though notoriously young, staffers are some of Washington's most interesting species to observe. It is not uncommon to observe a staffer simultaneously sending email, talking on a cell phone, and ordering in a restaurant or bar (the scientific name for this behavior is formulating policy).

View all features


News & Features
Trip Finder

Fodor's Washington, D.C. 25 Best

View Details
Mobile Apps

Washington DC - Fodor's Travel

Download Now
Travel Deals