A systematic study of the president's effect on public opinion: the Bush administration
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Since the legislative branch is responsible for policy-making, the president's success at passing policy depends on his ability to persuade Congress. Because congressmen are responsive to their constituents, one of the ways presidents can persuade Congress is by obtaining public support. In attempts to obtain support, presidents make appeals to the American public, otherwise known as "going public." These appeals began with Theodore Roosevelt's administration and have been employed more frequently with each successive president. However, the effectiveness of "going public" is highly speculative. In this study, I examined four issues about which President Bush went public: the Persian Gulf Crisis, War on Drugs, North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1990. I determined how successful Bush was at going public by comparing the frequency of his appeals to changes in public opinion. The results show that the president's attempts to change public opinion were relatively unsuccessful, except when he addressed the nation as a whole.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 47).
Hartline, Kelly (1999). A systematic study of the president's effect on public opinion: the Bush administration. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from