Presidential Approval and Legislative Success



While a large body of work exists on presidents’ public approval, no study identifies the conditions under which approval generates policy influence. This gap is particularly significant since empirical research has produced inconsistent findings on whether popularity affects a president’s legislative success. In the following, we argue that public salience and issue complexity determine the extent to which a president can capitalize on approval, and we proceed to test this hypothesis on U.S. House of Representatives roll-call votes between 1989 and 2000. The empirical analysis provides strong support for our hypothesis, which holds across a variety of econometric specifications and estimates of approval.