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The "Teflon Factor": Ronald Reagan & Comparative Presidential Popularity

David J. Lanoue
Polity
Vol. 21, No. 3 (Spring, 1989), pp. 481-501
DOI: 10.2307/3234744
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3234744
Page Count: 21
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The "Teflon Factor": Ronald Reagan & Comparative Presidential Popularity
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Abstract

Ronald Reagan was often called the "Teflon President," because criticism and blame never seemed to stick to him. His personal charm and style were said by many to form a protective covering that resisted public displeasure and explained his high popularity ratings. This article rejects the Teflon thesis, arguing that public affection for Reagan was governed by the normal laws of presidential popularity rightly understood. These laws, the author insists, are, first, the great advantages in popularity enjoyed by Republican Presidents in general and, second, the importance of short-term crises or "rally" events on public affection for chief executives. He examines presidential popularity from Dwight Eisenhower through Reagan, identifies patterns common to all, and concludes that there was really nothing that exceptional about President Reagan's standing with the American people.

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