Sovereigns or Servants - Presidential Relations with Congress in Domestic and Foreign Policy

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This study analyzes how job approval of the presidency impacts presidents' legislative success in Congress. This dissertation examines the role of approval in presidential legislative success in both domestic and foreign policy areas. The first part of the research focuses on all the presidents from 1971-2004. They are compared using several different regression models which show the relationship between job approval and legislative success. Included are models for overall success as well as foreign and domestic policy success. Also important to these models is the use of both general and policy-specific job approval ratings in the analysis.

The second part of the dissertation focuses on the first term of the George W. Bush presidency.  It looks at his legislative successes and failures from 2001-2004 as well as his public approval during that time period.  The impact of 9/11 and the war in Iraq are two key components of this section.   Included here is both a discussion of the key points during Bush's first term as well as a quantitative analysis of legislative success.  

The research underscores two main ideas: that public approval can play a role in legislative success and that foreign and domestic policy success should be examined both individually and together for a complete understanding of presidential-congressional relations in both domestic and foreign policy.  Analyzing presidential success in Congress reveals that at times approval does matter but that there are other key factors in determining success.  This research also shows that while presidents may be more successful in one policy area than another, the factors which impact their success in foreign and domestic policy are different.  The analysis of the Bush administration shows that the type of policy makes a difference in how successful the president is on this policy.  Legislation dealing with terrorism was more successful for President Bush compared to legislation focusing on non-terrorism issues.  Additionally, this study provides a framework for future analysis of presidential success in varying policy areas, including terrorism as well as domestic and foreign policy.