Polls and Elections: Decreasing the Economy's Impact on Evaluations of the President: An Experiment on Attribution Framing


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I thank Pepperdine University for support during this project. The survey experiment was funded by the Time Sharing in Social Sciences (TESS) program. I am indebted to Cynthia Colburn, Elizabeth Essary, Megan Francis, Caitlin Lawrence, Robert Sexton, and Chris Soper for help with pilot surveys and Poom Nukulkij of Knowledge Networks for his help with the survey experiment. Thanks to Kevin Arceneaux, Jeff Cohen, Jamie Druckman, Jennifer Merolla, Costas Panagopoulos, and Elizabeth Zechmeister for suggestions on the project.


Decades of research has shown that economic considerations are strongly tied to evaluations of the president. Many studies have found that framing (often called priming) by news coverage, events, and presidential rhetoric can increase the weight of economic and other considerations in presidential evaluations. I use a survey experiment to show that attribution frames can decrease the weight of economic considerations on presidential evaluations. The finding holds implications for the public's capacity to hold the president accountable and presidents' legislative strategies.