The Public Presidency, Personal Approval Ratings, and Policy Making



In this article, I argue that personal popularity is less essential to how a president's public activities affect policy making than commonly presumed, and provide two types of evidence for this argument. First, I show that unpopular as well as popular presidents can increase their prospects for legislative success by appealing to the public. Second, I demonstrate that on prominent issues, unpopular presidents are no more likely than popular ones to take positions favored by mass opinion. After relating these findings to a perspective of the public presidency that differs from the conventional wisdom, I discuss enduring questions concerning the topic.