The Polls: Partisanship and Presidential Performance Evaluations

Authors

  • JON R. BOND,

    1. Professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He is coauthor of The President in the Legislative Arena and coeditor of Polarized Politics: Congress and the President in a Partisan Era. He was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and has served as coeditor of the Journal of Politics.
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  • RICHARD FLEISHER

    1. Professor of political science at Fordham University. He is coeditor of Polarized Politics and American Political Parties: Decline or Resurgence and coauthor of The President in the Legislative Arena.
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  • AUTHORS' NOTE: We gratefully acknowledge helpful comments from Jeff Cohen, David Lawrence, Patricia Hurley, and Jan Leighley. Jon Bond is grateful for support from the Center for Presidential Studies, Governance, and Policy in the George Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University.

Abstract

This article analyzes the growing impact of partisanship on citizens' evaluations of the president's job performance at the individual level. The literature seeking to explain variation in presidential approval has analyzed aggregate trends over time. Although studies of aggregate trends have contributed to our understanding of the conditions that influence presidential approval, they are unable to model the individual-level process underlying the aggregate results. The authors estimate the effects of individual citizens' party identification and retrospective and prospective economic evaluations on presidential approval in thirteen national samples over the two and one-half decades from 1972 to 2000. It is found that party identification has a stronger influence on evaluations of the president's job performance in the period since 1982 than in the 1970s. Evidence is also found of an increasing tendency for partisanship to influence assessments of the economy in the period since 1982.

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