The Bush Presidency and the American Electorate


Gary C. Jacobson is professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He specializes in the study of U.S. elections, parties, interest groups, and Congress. His most recent book is The Logic of American Politics, 2d ed. (with Samuel Kernell).


George W. Bush's leadership in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 raised his standing with the American people dramatically. The rally in approval was sufficiently durable that, with the help of the shift in national priorities from domestic to defense issues and a pro-Republican reapportionment, the president's party was able to pick up seats in both houses in the 2002 elections. But aside from altering attitudes toward the president himself, September 11 and its aftermath (including successful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) have yet to show any lasting effect on partisan attitudes, the partisan balance, or the degree of polarization in the electorate.