Public Evaluations of Presidents

Paul Gronke and Brian Newman

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238859
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Public Evaluations of Presidents

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Comparative Politics



This article summarizes recent research that endogenizes and contextualizes the aspects of the political and economic environment that drive presidential approval and determines the important questions that should motivate future research. It then proceeds by discussing the forces that shape approval and ways in which polarization, changes in the media market, and the post-9/11 context may alter their impact. Additionally, it explains the roots of these forces themselves, showing how these forces depend on competition among political actors, including the president, and the media environment in which this competition occurs. The proliferation of media outlets poses significant challenges to the executive branch's ability to set the news agenda. Heterogeneity across groups can influence approval in two ways, via different perceptions of political and economic conditions and via the different impacts of those conditions. Presidents may be advantaged in competitions over the criteria by which they are evaluated.

Keywords: American president; presidential approval; media; competition; heterogeneity; polarization

Article.  10181 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Comparative Politics

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