Politics or Policy? How Rhetoric Matters to Presidential Leadership of Congress
In this study, we examine the linkage between presidential policy proposal messages and legislative success. Employing a dataset on presidential legislative proposals that covers the years 1949-2010, we find that politics matters less than policy. Purely political messages that reference the electoral logic of mandates or appeal to a sense of bipartisanship appear to have no impact on presidential legislative success, nor does policy signaling, though highlighting the role of agency-based policy experts in crafting legislation does. From these results, we conclude that although the way presidents communicate their messages to Congress represents an important component of presidential-legislative relations, it is instead the perceived quality of the legislation that more strongly shapes congressional support of presidential policy efforts.
José D. Villalobos, Justin S. Vaughn, and Julia R. Azari. "Politics or Policy? How Rhetoric Matters to Presidential Leadership of Congress" Presidential Studies Quarterly 42.3 (2012): 549-576.