The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings

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Meenekshi Bose, Mark Landis
Nova Publishers, Jan 1, 2003 - Political Science - 127 pages
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Debates about the uses of presidential ratings raise important questions about the accuracy of grouping leaders into single categories. Categories serve to identify some common features within a group, but they also mask important differences, which may distinguish a person significantly from others in the same category. The small number of presidents may make the value of subdividing them minimal, especially given the range of qualities by which we evaluate presidential leadership. Depending on the criteria used, a president may move sharply up or down in the survey -- presidents such as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, both of whom faced scandals in their administrations but also had notable policy achievements, are good examples. Yet rating presidents continues to be a favourite pastime of scholars and journalists, and new surveys always spark heated discussion about why the rankings of certain presidents have changed from previous surveys. This new and timely volume summarises the debates and assesses the uses of presidential ratings in light of those discussions. While presidential ratings surveys do generalise presidential performance and cannot capture all of a president's qualities, they nevertheless provide important guidelines for comparing presidential successes and failures. Furthermore, the consistency across surveys suggests greater agreement about many presidents than typically is recognised in discussion of individual cases.
  

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Contents

Presidential Ratings Lessons and Liabilities
3
Part I How Does the Public Evaluate Presidents?
25
Ranking the Presidents Continuity and Volatility
27
Evaluating the President The Publics Perspective through the Prism of Pollsters
43
Part II How Does Political Partisanship Influence Presidential Ratings?
51
Presidents and Significance Partisanship as a Source of Perceived Greatness
53
Partisan Biases in Presidential Ratings Ulysses Woodrow and Calvin We Hardly Knew Ye
67
Reflections of a Presidency Rater
81
Purpose Criteria Consequences
91
Commentary
93
Afterword
105
Of Pantheons Rankings and Reputations
107
Contributors
119
Index
123
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Meena Bose holds the Peter S. Kalikow Chair in Presidential Studies at Hofstra University and directs Hofstra's Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency. She received her Ph.D. (1996) from Princeton University. Dr. Bose teaches courses on the American Presidency, American Foreign Policy, and American Politics. She is the author or editor of several volumes in presidency studies and American politics. She taught for six years at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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