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Foreign Policy and Presidential Popularity: Creating Windows of Opportunity in the Perpetual Election

Robin F. Marra, Charles W. Ostrom, Jr. and Dennis M. Simon
The Journal of Conflict Resolution
Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec., 1990), pp. 588-623
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/174181
Page Count: 36
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Foreign Policy and Presidential Popularity: Creating Windows of Opportunity in the Perpetual Election
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Abstract

Variations in public support for the president have been explained in three different ways. First, approval has been viewed as controlled by the law of inevitable decline. Second, public support has been characterized as a function of an "environmental connection" between chief executives and macrofeatures of the political and economic landscape. Finally, some view "political drama" (e.g., speeches, trips, diplomatic agreements, and so on) as an important role in determining the popularity of the president. The present analysis offers a comprehensive model of public support for the president which draws on all three explanations and partitions the presidentially relevant factors into domestic and foreign policy subsets. The comprehensive model is operationalized and estimated using 573 Gallup presidential approval polls from January 1949 through December 1984. Empirical analysis demonstrated that factors derived from all three explanations contribute to the prediction of public support. In addition, the analysis evaluated the relative impact of domestic and foreign influences and located potential levers that presidents might pull to influence this popular support.

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