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The Wartime President: Insights, Lessons, and Opportunities for Continued Investigation

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Abstract

In The Wartime President, which the University of Chicago Press will publish in 2013, we scrutinize the impacts of war on the president's ability to advance a policy agenda at home. Empirically, we provide evidence that during major wars of the last century, policy outcomes and congressional voting patterns more closely reflect presidential preferences over both foreign and domestic issues. Theoretically, we identify a particular mechanism through which wars have the potential to alter negotiations between Congress and the president—namely, by increasing the salience of national considerations, over which presidents have clear informational advantages, and diminishing the parochial considerations that inform deliberations within Congress. In this article, we summarize some of our main empirical findings, offer a nontechnical description of our formal theory, and suggest avenues for continued research on war and the American presidency.

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