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Electoral College Consequences. Winner-take-all Battleground states Targeted in campaigns Policy benefits Depresses turnout Build broad geographical coalition Misfire? Bush 3.5 million popular vote margin Swing of 150,000 votes in Ohio. Britain’s Division. Head of Government.

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Electoral College Consequences

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Electoral College Consequences

  • Winner-take-all

    • Battleground states

      • Targeted in campaigns

      • Policy benefits

    • Depresses turnout

  • Build broad geographical coalition

  • Misfire?

    • Bush 3.5 million popular vote margin

    • Swing of 150,000 votes in Ohio

Britain’s Division

Head of Government

  • Head of State

President wears “many hats”

  • Chief of State

  • Manager of the Economy

  • Chief Executive

  • Commander-in-Chief

  • Chief Diplomat

  • Chief Legislator

  • Chief of the Party

  • World Leader

Constitutional Basics

  • Normative ?-- Hamilton, Fed No. 70. Energy in the Executive

    • one person office

    • elected for a fixed term

    • national constituency

    • Vague formal powers from Constitution

Constitutional DNA

  • Hamilton

  • “Energy in the Executive”

    • One person office

    • Fixed term

    • National constituency

    • Vague formal powers

Few Formal Executive Powers

  • Administrative head of government

  • Commander-in-Chief of military

  • Veto (or sign) legislation

  • Nominate judges, cabinet secretaries

  • Treaties, pardons, convene Congress

Modern Presidency

FDR’s Legacy

  • Wins World War II

  • Ends the Great Depression

  • Ends economic insecurity with Social Security

  • Fights for working man (unions, minimum wage)

  • Reduces agricultural poverty (farm supports)

The Modern PresidencyWWII onward

The FDR Standard (1932-45)

  • Emphasis on leadership & bully pulpit

  • National problems

  • New role for federal government

  • President as active leader

  • Welfare state

  • Expanded executive branch (budget)

Paradox of the Modern Presidency

  • President is #1

    • Increased expectations of presidency

    • Increased staff, resources

    • Shift in quality and quantity of attention paid to president

    • Chief policy-maker

  • BUT

    • No change in formal powers!

New American President--Power of Clark Kent --Expectations of Superman

Going Public Strategy

  • Presidents

    • Marshall public support for their policies and actions

    • Cultivate popular cultural image of themselves

Public Approval of President

  • Three general trends

    • Declines while in office

    • Economy

    • Rally events and scandals

  • Beyond Presidential Control

The Current Incumbent

Bush- Social Security Roadtrip

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling Social Security (USA Today/Gallup)

What is George W. Bush’s image?


“Mission Accomplished”

Cowboy (not wimp)

Compassionate Conservative

Education President


Likes Children and Baseball


Going Public

Alternative Image?

Institutional Presidency

  • Jefferson in 1900 had 2 assistants

  • Brownlow Committee

    • “The president needs help”

  • President not Congress should be in charge of executive branch

Presidency is Many People


CEA, “czars,” VP,

and WHO

WHO: close advisors,

no Senate approval

Cabinet Officials

Department of State

Department of Defense

Department of Treasury

Exec. Office of Pres.

White House Office (WHO)




Where is the Power?

Institutional Presidency I: West Wing

Institutional Presidency II: OEOB

Implications of Instit. Pres

  • Radical change in system of government?

  • Increased presidential control of policy making and centralization of the decision making

  • Increases potential for screw ups

  • Reduced accountability

Transition from Historical to Modern Presidency

  • Historic Presidency

    • President is a clerk

    • Congress #1

  • Modern Presidency

    • Increased popular expectations

    • President #1

    • No change in formal powers

Modern Presidents Response

  • Devote tremendous time and resources to manipulating public image

    • Going public

  • Have immense staff of political, policy, and partisan experts

    • Institutional presidency

  • Are presidents stronger– YES, but expectations outstrip capacity

World’s Greatest Clerkship

  • Neustadt, Presidential Power (Al’s prof)

    • power of president do not flow from literary reading of constitution

    • Decisions are not self executing JFK, Cuban Missile Crisis

    • "The conditions that promote his leadership in form, preclude a guarantee of leadership in fact."

    • “presidential power is power to bargain”

Limited formal powers=constant bargaining

  • President can

    • Nominate judges, but

    • Propose trade treaties, but

    • Propose popular legislation, but

    • Propose spending less on military golf courses,

  • Will Presidents keep their promises?

    • Constitutional odds are stacked against them!

Presidential power = persuasion

  • Formal powers are minimal

    • Can propose legislation, C in C

    • Dependent on other institutions

  • Informal powers are crucial

    • Presidential power is power to persuade

    • Presidents have to bargain

Informal Powers

  • Professional reputation

  • Electoral results

  • Bargaining

    • Carrot and the stick

  • Marshalling public opinion (going public)

The Stick and Senator Shelby

  • Dem criticizes Clinton’s Budget

  • Space Shuttle to TX

  • No Tickets for ‘Bama Celebration at WH

  • Shelby’s response?

Unsuccessful Persuasion

  • Clinton Campaign Promise

    • Allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in military

  • Congress

    • Sam Nunn (D-GA) on the submarine

    • Don’t ask, don’t tell in Family Medical Leave Act

  • C in C of Military

    • Cruising chat rooms and gay bars

Success of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell

  • Source: CNN Special Report

Truman and Marshall Plan

  • Truman’s prospects for Aid to Europe

    • Un-elected president

    • Very unpopular

    • Large GOP majorities in Congress

    • Memory of Great Depression

    • Increasing Isolationism

Ranking Presidents

  • Will history judge Bill Clinton as a great president? George W. Bush?

  • Why or why not?








Why such variety?





Bush (41)

Ranking Post WW II Presidents


  • Executive branch “reflects the character and personality of the president”

  • highly personalized nature of modern American Presidency

  • Presidential success = Characteristics of Individual President

Effectiveness as Public Communicator

  • Bully Pulpit

Organizational Capacity

  • Loyalty

  • Candid discussion

  • Prevent group-think

Political Skill

  • Establish reputation as “skilled operator”

  • Opposes, then Signs

    • Corporate Responsibility Act

    • Homeland Security

  • Public opposes

    • Tax Cuts

    • War in Iraq

Vision Thing

  • Possession of a set of overarching goals

  • Over-rated?

Cognitive Style

  • Presidency not a multiple choice test

  • Reagan vs. Carter

Emotional Intelligence

  • Disturbed

    • Nixon

    • LBJ

  • Risk-takers

    • JFK

    • Clinton


  • Presidents in Historical Time

    • Times affects nature of skill

Political time as a resource for or constraint on a president

Political Time

  • The idea that at any given time there is a dominant ideological regime, connected to, but even broader than party.

  • A president’s party’s relationship to the dominant partisan regime LIMITS or EXPANDS a president’s legitimate authority to change national policies

Politics of Reconstruction

  • Greatest potential for leadership

  • New ideological commitments

  • Create new political coalitions

Politics of Preemption

  • Constrained by dominant ideological regime

    • “Era of big government is dead” NAFTA, Welfare reform, balanced budget

  • Focus on creative political leadership

    • V-Chip, New Covenant

  • Danger or personal political isolation

Politics of Articulation

  • “Normal” situation

  • Deliver on Regime’s unfulfilled policy agenda

    • Tax cuts, deregulation, moral issues

    • Partial birth abortion, abstinence education, gay marriage

  • Maintain Political Coalition

    • Prevent Moral-Economic split

Is a strong president good?

  • Framers

  • Can a president represent an entire nation

  • Woodrow Wilson/Teddy Roosevelt critique

Presidential Power- 2 views

  • It is not only the president’s "right, but his duty to do anything that the needs of the nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Congress." T. Roosevelt

  • The president can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power .. either in the federal constitution or in an act of Congress. There is no undefined residuum of power which he can exercise because it seems to him to be in the public interest. William Taft 1916.

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