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Presidential Campaigns and Presidential Accountability

Michele P. Claibourn

Publication Year: 2011

In investigating the presidential campaigns and early administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, Presidential Campaigns and Presidential Accountability shows how campaign promises are realized in government once the victor is established in the Oval Office. To measure correlations between presidential campaigns and policy-making, Michele P. Claibourn closely examines detailed campaign advertising information, survey data about citizen's responses to campaigns, processes that create expectations among constituents, and media attention and response to candidates. _x000B__x000B_Disputing the notion that presidents ignore campaign issues upon being elected, Presidential Campaigns and Presidential Accountability contends that candidates raise issues that matter and develop ideas to address these issues based on voter reactions. Conventional disappointment in presidential campaigns stems from a misunderstanding of the role that presidents play in a system of separate institutions sharing power, and Claibourn forces us to think about presidential campaigns in the context of the presidency--what the president realistically can and cannot do. Based on comparisons of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama campaigns and the first years of the subsequent presidential administrations, Claibourn builds a generalized theory of agenda accountability, showing how presidential action is constrained by campaign agendas.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Democracy, Free Enterprise, and the Rule of Law


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. 6-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

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...

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Introduction: Campaigning for Accountability

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pp. 1-8

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...

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1. The Meaning of Presidential Accountability

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pp. 9-24

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...

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2. Agenda Accountability in Action

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pp. 25-40

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...

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3. Campaigning on Issues

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pp. 41-55

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...

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4. Hearing the Campaign

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pp. 56-71

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...

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5. Candidate Messages and Citizen Expectations

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pp. 72-89

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...

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6. Campaign Connections and Presidential Evaluations

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pp. 90-113

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...

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7. Beyond the Voting Booth: Clinton 1993 and Obama 2009

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pp. 114-147

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...

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8. Campaign-Driven Accountability

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pp. 148-160

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

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pp. 161-163

Appendix B: Estimated Models for Chapter 4

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pp. 165-167

Appendix C: Estimated Models for Chapter 5

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pp. 169-173


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pp. 175-186


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pp. 187-200


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pp. 201-204

Back Cover

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p. 218-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780252093166
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252035920

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Democracy, Free Enterprise, and the Rule of Law