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Divided Government and Foreign Relations Approval
Presidential Studies Quarterly (2011)
  • Brian Newman, Pepperdine University
  • Kevin Lammert

During divided government, the public tends to attribute credit and blame for economic conditions to both the president and Congress. However, the "two presidencies" thesis argues that presidents have more influence vis-a-vis Congress in shaping foreign policy compared to domestic policy, so the public may attribute all foreign policy outcomes to the president alone. This suggests that the boost presidents typically receive in their overall approval during divided government due to sharing the blame for negative economic conditions will not extend to their foreign relations approval numbers, We find that presidents do enjoy higher overall approval during divided government. However, contrary to the two presidencies thesis, presidents also enjoy higher foreign relations approval during divided government. We explore four potential explanations for this puzzle and point to future research questions the puzzle raises. [First paragraph]

  • Public approval ratings,
  • U.S. Presidents,
  • Congress,
  • two presidencies thesis,
  • foreign relations,
  • divided government
Publication Date
June, 2011
Citation Information
Brian Newman and Kevin Lammert. "Divided Government and Foreign Relations Approval" Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 41 Iss. 2 (2011)
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