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Presidential Leadership in Public Opinion
Causes and Consequences


  • Date Published: June 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107443693

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About the Authors
  • Although presidents may have a difficult time actually leading the public and Congress, voters still desire strong leadership from their commander in chief. In Presidential Leadership in Public Opinion, Jeffrey E. Cohen argues that the perception of presidential leadership in American politics is affected not so much by what presidents accomplish but by whether voters think their president is a good leader. When assessing whether a president is a good leader, voters ask two questions: does the president represent me and the nation? And, is the president strong? Cohen shows that presidential interactions with Congress affect voter perceptions of presidential representation and strength. These perceptions have important implications for public attitudes about American politics. They affect presidential approval ratings, the performance of candidates in presidential elections, attitudes toward Congress, and trust in government. Perceptions of presidential leadership qualities have implications not only for the presidency but also for the larger political system.

    • In-depth statistical analysis
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Americans thirst for strong presidential leadership. But what qualities do they demand in a chief executive? Cohen's study explores in detail the foundations of this amorphous concept. Cohen shows how assessments of presidential leadership both shape and are shaped by the president's ability to get things done in Washington. More provocatively, Cohen argues that voters' evaluations of presidential leadership affect their judgment of and satisfaction with the political system more broadly.' Douglas Kriner, Boston College, Massachusetts

    'A timely and powerful book. Cohen provides a penetrating and revealing examination of presidential leadership in the public mind - what it means, what influences it, and what consequences it has. Relying on careful theorizing and analysis, he demonstrates that people want a president who is a strong leader but also one who is representative of the public. This produces a tension that presidents must navigate, one that is closely scrutinized by mass media actors and has implications for presidents' political fortunes and the broader political system. Presidential Leadership in Public Opinion is thought-provoking and persuasive, and I heartily recommend it.' Christopher Wlezien, University of Texas, Austin

    'In Presidential Leadership in Public Opinion, Jeffrey Cohen expertly tackles questions that have long bedeviled scholarship on the presidency: what is leadership and how it does matter? In an analytic stroke of genius, Cohen convincingly argues that how the public views presidents as leaders extends well beyond their approval of the person inhabiting the White House. Across a wide range of meticulously executed empirical analyses, Cohen demonstrates the importance of perceptions of leadership for a presidential success, both in Congress and in subsequent elections. Leaving no stone unturned, Cohen shows that the public's assessments of presidential leadership travel further still, affecting the ways they evaluate government as a whole. In addition to making substantial contributions to our understanding of how presidents respond to public expectations, this book sets an exciting new agenda for the study of leadership.' Jon Rogowski, Washington University, St Louis

    'Professor Cohen's book marks an important advance in how we study the public presidency. At the same time, it invites us to grapple further with some of the topic's most vexing features.' Bruce Miroff, Congress and the Presidency

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107443693
    • length: 222 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.31kg
    • contains: 56 b/w illus. 36 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The many meanings of presidential leadership
    2. Evidence on the public demand for presidential leadership
    3. Congressional sources of the president's leadership image
    4. Success in Congress and perceptions of presidential strength
    5. Presidential representation and public opinion
    6. Presidential leadership and presidential elections
    7. Perceptions of presidential leadership, trust in government, and attitudes toward Congress
    8. Presidential leadership, public opinion, and American democracy.

  • Author

    Jeffrey E. Cohen, Fordham University, New York
    Jeffrey E. Cohen is a Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Cohen is the author of thirteen other books. His last book, Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age (Cambridge University Press, 2010) won both the 2011 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association and the 2012 Goldsmith Award from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is the author of more than fifty articles in academic journals such as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.

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