The Polls: Public Opinion and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld


Costas Panagopoulos is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. He is also visiting assistant professor in the department of political science at Fordham University, where he serves as director of the Elections and Campaign Management Program.


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been characterized simultaneously as a central political figure in the executive branch as well as one of the most controversial and contentious cabinet members of the Bush administration. This article assesses Americans’ impressions of Secretary Rumsfeld's job performance and reveals that evaluations of Secretary Rumsfeld's performance have steadily declined since 2001. Over the same period, President Bush's approval ratings have dwindled, although the evidence I present indicates no relationship exists between the two. The broader implications of this research suggest that public evaluations of a president's key subordinates may not necessarily influence levels of presidential approval.