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Influencing from Impaired Administrations: Presidents, White House Scandals, and Legislative Leadership

Scott R. Meinke and William D. Anderson
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Nov., 2001), pp. 639-659
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/440273
Page Count: 21
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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.
Influencing from Impaired Administrations: Presidents, White House Scandals, and Legislative Leadership
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Abstract

Journalists and scholars alike have suggested that scandal has a harmful effect on the effectiveness of the political system. Little systematic evidence exists to validate this claim, but we address the problem by offering theoretical reasons and empirical evidence that White House scandal—independent of other influences such as public approval of the president—has a negative effect on presidential support in Congress. We analyze individual House members' votes on key legislation during the Watergate, Iran-contra, and Monica Lewinsky scandals, employing as an independent variable an innovative measure of scandal presence and intensity. Our empirical tests show that the usual contextual influences on congressional voting are significant and that scandal has a strong, negative effect on presidential support. After detailing these findings, we conclude with a discussion of implications both for presidential politics and for the presidential leadership literature.

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