Assignment Instructions

Become familiar with the chart showing President Obama’s job approval on my web website..

For Written Assignment #1, please follow these directions:
2) Your response must be saved in Rich Text Format (.rtf) or Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx file). Your word processor will allow you to convert it to this format that can be read across all computer platform types if you do not use Word.
4) Please follow the proper file naming procedure as explained in the syllabus.
5) The length of this assignment should be around 1,200 words.
Become familiar with the chart showing President Obama’s job approval on my web website. You will also want to look at other presidents by selecting them from the dropdown menu on the webpage:
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/popularity.php?pres=44 (Links to an external site.)
Since we do not see each other in class, you have not had the chance to hear me discuss my area of expertise…The Presidency. Here is something I discuss in class that is not in the chapter:
Factors that affect public approval of the president:
1) The Economy: Simply, when the economy is doing well, meaning that economic indicators like unemployment, inflation (including gas prices), and interest rates are positive, the public usually approves of the president’s job performance. Of course, the president is not usually able to command a good economy, so he often suffers blame and enjoys praise even if the state of the economy is not in his immediate control.
2) The Rally Effect: When the United States experiences an acute event involving it’s foreign policy (someone attacks us, the beginning of a military engagement, or other international relations shock involving U.S. interests), the public tends to rally around the president. In a chart, one can see a quick bump in the president’s approval rating. The rally effect is usually short lived however. Americans want to see the problem resolved and when it drags on, approval often drops to its previous trend line after a plateau that lasts for a few months. Even if the problem was resolved successfully for the U.S. (imagine a brief military operation), economic concerns and other factors will again be the central concern of most Americans. Bush after 9-11 is a classic and obvious example.
3) Scandal: When the president or his administration becomes the focus of a scandal involving questions of lawbreaking or unethical behavior, Americans may disapprove of the president’s job performance. The data also suggests that the public differentiates between constitutional and personal scandals. Note that Clinton maintained his highest job approval numbers during the impeachment.
An additional dynamic: Presidents usually enter office enjoying positive job approval among more than 50% of Americans, and usually among a higher percentage of people than the percentage of popular votes he received in the election. Often the approval increases slightly during the first 100 days in office. We call this phenomenon the “honeymoon effect”, which is when the public, shaped also by the media and even the opposition party, gives deference to the new president. Washington politics soon sets in after this period.
You can see that President Obama was enjoying the “honeymoon effect,” but for much of his second term, his approval is around the low to mid 40’s after having popped above 50% in time for his re-election in 2012.
For your assignment, navigate to my website’s collection of job approval data following the link above. Choose three different presidents from Harry S. Truman through Barack Obama and look at the data. Look for an example of each of the three influences I discussed above, identifying one from one of the presidents you chose, another from a second president, etc. For example, you might want to discuss Eisenhower within the context of the economy, Truman, in the context of scandal, etc. Because I already identified certain historical examples, you may not choose Clinton’s scandal in 1998-99 or Nixon and Watergate, and for a rally effect, please do not use the 9/11 Attacks because they so well-known and obvious.
Then, do research and find some credible and accurate information that will allow you to identify the historical events that explain your findings. You might want to start by looking up some presidents on the Internet. If you come across Wikipedia, keep in mind that the best way to use Wikipedia is to start there for basic information, but make sure you then follow the footnotes on their pages to other more credible sources of information. Do not cite Wikipedia in academic work. Instead, use footnotes to navigate to more credible sources of information. Be careful when using online sources to make sure you are finding accurate information suitable for academic work.
One excellent source for research online is MERLOT (Links to an external site.).
Properly cite your sources. Use any standard for citing such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, just choose one and use it consistently. I assume you are familiar with one of these from college preparatory classes or English classes at the collegiate level. See these links if you need additional information
MLA style (Links to an external site.)
APA style (Links to an external site.)
Chicago style (Links to an external site.)
Directions: Discuss one observation of each of the three influences I mentioned from three different presidents from among the range of Truman through Obama. In addition, find one “honeymoon effect” for a president, and describe how pronounced it is. For example, choose one president for your discussion of the economy, another president for your discussion of the “rally effect”, and a third president for your research and discussion of scandal. You may use one of the three presidents you chose for discussion of the “honeymoon effect,” or choose a fourth.
Your essay should also include some discussion introducing and concluding your analysis that provides an explanation of why we bother studying job approval of the president. The relationship of the president to the public and his use of rhetoric as a form of persuasion is explained in Chapter 13. Does job approval have an effect on his relationship with Congress? Does it have an effect on his ability to use the “going public” strategy?
Finally, here is some other data that you might find interesting:
Initial Job Approval Ratings (Links to an external site.)
Job Approval at About 100 Days in Office (Links to an external site.)
Final Job Approval Ratings (Links to an external site.)
Be very careful about avoiding plagiarism. Because I ask for you to do some web based research, I often find that people simply copy work from the Internet. Do not do that.

Become familiar with the chart showing President Obama’s job approval on my web website.

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