AUTHORS' NOTE: We thank Jeffrey Cohen and Costas Panagopoulos for their helpful suggestions.
Polls and Elections: The Polarized Presidency: Depth and Breadth of Public Partisanship
Article first published online: 14 APR 2010
© 2010 Center for the Study of the Presidency
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 40, Issue 2, pages 342–363, June 2010
How to Cite
NEWMAN, B. and SIEGLE, E. (2010), Polls and Elections: The Polarized Presidency: Depth and Breadth of Public Partisanship. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 40: 342–363. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5705.2010.03756.x
- Issue published online: 14 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 14 APR 2010
This essay examines the extent of partisan polarization in the public's views of the president from 1972 to 2008, extending earlier studies by placing the George W. Bush administration in historical context and exploring the depth and breadth of polarization. The authors find that the party gap in presidential approval has grown significantly over time. Moreover, more inpartisans strongly approve of the president and more outpartisans strongly disapprove. In addition, polarization has become broader as assessments of economic conditions, the president's handling of foreign relations, perceptions of the ideological difference between the president and citizens, and views of the president's competence and morality have become increasingly partisan. Suggestive evidence is offered that especially positive or negative views of the economy and “rally” events can alter the extent of polarization. Ultimately, the depth and breadth of polarization may hold dire implications for presidential governance.