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Political Regimes and Institutional Support: How Partisanship Affects Attitudes toward Presidential Power | Andrew Reeves

Political Regimes and Institutional Support: How Partisanship Affects Attitudes toward Presidential Power

Abstract

We study how Americans’ attitudes toward executive power are affected by their partisan alignment with the president currently in office. One perspective posits that an individual’s views about presidential power depend on whether a copartisan president holds office. Another perspective suggests that attitudes about executive power are stable across time and insulated from short-term political forces. We adjudicate between these arguments with panel data from a national probability sample conducted during the transition between the Obama and Trump presidencies. We establish two primary findings. First, large majorities of Americans report stable attitudes about executive power regardless of the president currently in office. Second, among respondents who reported different attitudes toward executive power as the presidency changed from Obama to Trump, they did so in ways that reflected their partisan identification. In an era of ascendant partisanship, Americans’ attitudes toward executive power are surprisingly similar and stable across party lines.