jeffrey e. cohen, jon r. bond,
richard fleisher, and john a. hamman
State-Level Presidential Approval and Senatorial Support
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXV:577-90

The effect of public presidential approval on congressional support for the president has been the subject of considerable debate and controversy. Systematic, quantitative studies have been unable to demonstrate convincingly that public approval leads to greater legislative support for the president. The lack of constituency-level public approval data has hindered resolution of the controversy. Studies have relied upon either election results or national-level approval data as substitutes, but both alternatives are problematic as measures of public approval at the constituency level. In this paper, we use new data gathered from 50 state surveys in September 1996 that asked respondents, among other things, to rate the job performance of the president. We test whether or not public approval in the states affects senators’ support for the president and also look at some hypotheses: whether or not minority party status, running for reelection, electoral vulnerability, and presidential coattails interact with constituents’ approval of the president to affect senators’ roll-call support for the president. With controls for partisanship and ideology of the senator and the state, analysis indicates no support for the hypothesis that public approval of the president leads to greater presidential support among senators.


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