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Building Public Support from the Grassroots Up: The Impact of Presidential Travel on State-Level Approval

Jeffrey E. Cohen and Richard J. Powell
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 2005), pp. 11-27
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27552657
Page Count: 17
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Building Public Support from the Grassroots Up: The Impact of Presidential Travel on State-Level Approval
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Abstract

Presidential travel around the nation has become commonplace, yet very little research exists on its impact on public opinion. Although presidents "go public" for a variety of reasons, such as building and maintaining public support, existing research has been limited to examining the effects of going public on national-level support for the president. In this study, we argue that presidents target state publics (and other sub-national publics) when they travel around the nation. To test this possible linkage between travel and approval, we utilize data on presidential travel and newly available data on state-level presidential approval ratings. After controlling for various factors that affect the level of presidential approval at the state level, we find that a presidential visit results in a modest, statistically significant increase in the president's state-level job approval rating. Our analysis indicates that this effect is present only in non-election periods and in large states, suggesting that presidents are more likely to stimulate public support when appearing presidential rather than as candidates for office or as partisan leaders.

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