Empirical Public Economics
Edited by Attiat F. Ott and Richard J. Cebula
Chapter 16: A Preliminary Analysis of the Presidential Approval Rating
Richard J. Cebula* 1 Introduction Presidential approval ratings are potentially important in a variety of practical ways. Clearly, if the approval rating of the incumbent President is either very high or very low, respectively, it reasonably follows that the prospects of reelection of that President/Administration are likely to be enhanced or diminished (Campbell and Mann, 1996; Jones, 2001). In addition, to the degree that the sitting President has a high public approval rating, there very likely will be ‘political coattails’ for other candidates of the same political party afﬁliation, perhaps especially those aspiring for election to a national ofﬁce, to ‘ride on’ once election day arrives. Furthermore, a higher public approval rating is likely to increase the inﬂow of political contributions to the coffers of the President’s political party for ﬁnancing election or re-election campaigns. On another front, a higher Presidential approval rating could well enhance the prospects for successfully achieving the President’s political agenda by increasing his inﬂuence over Congress (Edwards, 1998; Canes-Wrone, 2004). In other words, high public approval ratings can provide the President with leverage to pressure Congress into passing legislation, including appropriations bills; naturally, a President with only low public approval ratings lacks such leverage. This consideration carries with it myriad implications for the magnitude of the federal budget and its composition. Indeed, the balance of power between the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of the federal government could swing one way or the other in any given short-run period, depending...
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