Going Public as a Legislative Weapon: Measuring Presidential Appeals Regarding Specific Legislation

. Presidential Studies Quarterly 35 (1): 1-10 (2005)


This article examines the public appeals of three modern presidents (Carter, Reagan, and the first Bush) concerning 253 significant pieces of legislation. It shows that these occupants of the Oval Office took their case to the American people only a few times regarding most of the bills examined. This finding holds across a number of measures of presidential appeals, including general appeals, calls for public and congressional action, television and radio appeals, and appeals made outside of Washington, DC. The presidents analyzed were more likely to speak in support of rather than in opposition to legislation, however. They also went public repeatedly regarding a handful of proposals, particularly their own initiatives.

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