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Polls and Elections: Firing Back: Out-Party Responses to Presidential State of the Union Addresses, 1966-2006


Costas Panagopoulos is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University.


The U.S. Constitution requires the president to deliver regular reports to the U.S. Congress about the status of the nation and its political priorities. Presidents typically present their views to a joint session of Congress during their State of the Union address. In recent years, members of the opposition party have developed a tradition of delivering a response to the president's address. This article will examine out-party responses to the president's State of the Union address. I investigate characteristics and patterns of response, and estimate an empirical model to explain the impact of strategic decisions about rebuttal designees on the overall effectiveness of the president's State of the Union message.