Presidential Campaigns and Presidential Accountability
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Table of Contents
In the broadest sense, this book is about our ideas of democracy, ideas that have power over us as citizens, scholars, commentators, and leaders. Like all works, this one builds on the insights of generations of thinkers. I hope it honors these contributions by encouraging a more inclusive democracy. Like...
Introduction: Campaigning for Accountability
Presidential election campaigns, and the electorate at which they are aimed, routinely come under fire from scholars, journalists, and pundits alike. Political analysts push candidates to clarify their policy differences. Scholars criticize campaigns for containing too little issue substance and specificity. And...
1. The Meaning of Presidential Accountability
Democratic accountability is at the heart of a functioning democracy. Our current understanding of accountability, though, does not fit comfortably with the American system of separate institutions competing for shares of power. Citizens, meanwhile, stubbornly refuse to strive for the standards laid...
2. Agenda Accountability in Action
Presidential approval is the main mechanism for the public, en masse, to respond to presidential behavior outside of elections. Presidential approval, the percent of the public who “approve of the way [the incumbent] is handling his job as president,” reflects the contemporary consent of the populace for the...
3. Campaigning on Issues
To promote accountability, candidates must talk about issues. Fortunately, presidential campaigns are filled with issue talk—in debates, in speeches, in television advertising. Given the quadrennial laments of political observers, this may be a surprising assertion, though it is one increasingly accepted by scholars...
4. Hearing the Campaign
If a campaign talks about issues, and in doing so conveys the candidates’ agenda priorities, do citizens hear these agenda priorities? This is the next necessary step for campaign-induced agenda accountability. If this key message of the presidential campaign is not accurately received by citizens, then...
5. Candidate Messages and Citizen Expectations
Presidential candidates offer clear and competing agendas in the campaign. Citizens, for the most part, pick up these agendas. If citizens select a candidate in part on the basis of that agenda, this is a version of issue voting, one based on priorities, not positions. Thus, the public need only vote for the candidate...
6. Campaign Connections and Presidential Evaluations
Campaigns convey to citizens information about the priorities of presidential candidates. Citizens use this information in evaluating the prospective leaders, and for key issues they do so in a way that suggests the development of longer-term expectations. What effect do these citizen understandings have on leader...
7. Beyond the Voting Booth: Clinton 1993 and Obama 2009
Bush’s early presidency allowed us to examine the consequences for accountability of three of the four campaign agenda outcomes—agenda follow-through (education and tax cuts), agenda neglect (Social Security), and consistent neglect, or de-emphasis in both the campaign and administration. To...
8. Campaign-Driven Accountability
Campaigns and elections offer an unrivaled opportunity for the public and leaders to interact. The operation of campaigns is important for the legitimacy of democratic government; the outcomes are important for the actions of government. We need campaigns and elections to work well. But what does it mean for a campaign...
Appendix A: Most Frequently Aired Ads in 2000
Appendix B: Estimated Models for Chapter 4
Appendix C: Estimated Models for Chapter 5
Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Democracy, Free Enterprise, and the Rule of Law
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