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Explaining Presidential Approval, 1993-2020: An Examination of the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump Presidencies
  • Charles Ostrom,
  • Alon Kraitzman,
  • Brian Newman
Charles Ostrom
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Alon Kraitzman
Michigan State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Brian Newman
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Abstract

Can public support for recent presidents be explained by long-held findings in the presidential approval literature? The presidencies, of Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump seem to counter the existing literature, suggesting that recent approval ratings have become disconnected from the political environment. We synthesize prior scholarship on the environmental connection, salience, and economic handling to develop a general model to evaluate approval during the 1992-2020 period. The model estimates show the environmental connection remains intact. Looking at these four presidents together, we find the public punished and rewarded presidents in a manner consistent with the long-held findings of the literature. Even though each of these four presidents served in unique circumstances, the foundation of the public's approval remained consistent. Our results point to an enduring environmental connection that holds presidents accountable for the conditions of the day.