FOUR ESSAYS ON HOW PRESIDENTIAL POLICY REPRESENTATION ON THE ISSUE OF IMMIGRATION AFFECTS LATINO POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
Rouse, Stella M.
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I bridge the presidency literature and priming literature to develop a new model for understanding how the executive office can prime the public's attitudes. The Executing Priming Theory (EPT) hypothesizes that the president can subtly alter the public's views toward him by responding to the public’s policy demands through the use of his executive powers. These actions will often draw news coverage from the media, taking the president's policy actions directly to the public and raising the salience of these issues. In turn, this affects the criteria that will be used to evaluate the president's performance and influence political behavior. In four essays, based on data from the Pew Research Center, I find an association between Latino approval of President Obama’s policies on immigration and their political behavior. These findings present a new way of thinking about the president's policy responsiveness. Previous presidents have been found to respond to policy demands with symbolic actions (Cohen 1997) rather than substantive policies or motivated primarily by partisan factors (Wood 2009). I demonstrate here that President Obama utilized unilateral actions to provide Latinos with substantive policy representation to improve his standing within this community. Overall, I find that substantive presidential policy representation influences not only Latino but also non-Latino political behavior. The findings presented in these four essays demonstrate that substantive policy representation by the president matters.