Polls and Elections: Firing Back: Out-Party Responses to Presidential State of the Union Addresses, 1966-2006
Panagopoulos, Costas, Presidential Studies Quarterly
The U.S. Constitution requires American presidents to deliver regular updates about the "State of the Union" to Congress. Article II, Section 3, stipulates that the president, "shall from time to time give to the Congress information about the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." This constitutional mandate establishes the formal basis upon which presidents have advanced a tradition of yearly reports to Congress about the state of affairs in the nation known formally as the "annual message" between 1790 and 1934. President George Washington combined his inaugural address and his annual message, and delivered it to a joint session of Congress in New York City on April 30, 1789. He delivered his first regular annual message on January 8, 1790.
Over time, the content and focus of the annual message has changed considerably. In the nineteenth century, annual messages were typically lengthy and technical administrative reports on the executive branch. But after 1913, when Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of presenting the message to Congress in person, it became a platform for the president to rally support for his agenda. Advancement in communications technology further enabled presidents to use the message as a forum to speak directly to the American public. The address has been known generally as the "State of the Union" since 1947, the year in which President Harry Truman delivered the first televised broadcast of the message. (1)
Since 1966, television networks have provided airtime for the opposition party to deliver a response to the president's State of the Union address. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) and Congressman Gerald Ford (D-MI) delivered the first rebuttal to President Johnson's State of the Union message on behalf of the Republican Party. The tradition of televised opposition responses to the president's annual message to Congress by the out-party continues.
This study examines patterns in opposition parties' decisions about which members deliver responses to the president's State of the Union address over the past four decades. I investigate and compare the major parties' selection of rebutters with respect to their political backgrounds, institutional affiliation, and demographic and political characteristics. I also develop and estimate an empirical model to examine the impact of opposition responses on the effectiveness of a president's State of the Union address to Congress and to explore how differences in the selection of out-party representatives to deliver rebuttals helps to explain the effectiveness of the response.
Strategy of "Going Public"
U.S. presidents typically attract greater media attention than any other singular political actors. In his seminal work on the presidency, Neustadt (1960) argued that part of presidents' "power to persuade" can be derived from leveraging publicity to advance their agenda. Kernell (1997) subsequently argued that presidents increasingly employ a strategy of "going public"--appealing directly to citizens with the help of the media--to strengthen support for their policy proposals. Several studies suggest presidents may indeed be capable of influencing public views by going public. Cohen (1997) has shown, for example, that presidential communications can influence the public's agenda, at least in the short term. Most studies, however, detect only modest effects of presidential leadership on public opinion and presidential approval. Baum and Kernell (2001), for example, find that Roosevelt's radio addresses only lifted his approval ratings by 1 percentage point on average. Similarly, Ragsdale (1984) reports increases of 3 percentage points in approval in her study of presidential speeches between 1949 and 1980. Brace and Hinkley (1992) show that major addresses add 6 percentage points to presidential approval ratings. Simon and Ostrom (1989) conclude that presidents' televised speeches do not affect presidential approval at all. In the most comprehensive, recent treatment of the topic, Edwards (2003) contends that presidential efforts to engender greater public support for their policy preferences by going public are generally unsuccessful. Edwards observes, for example, that presidential approval before and after major televised speeches, including State of the Union addresses to Congress, rarely shifts significantly.
Edwards (2003) considers a host of explanations to account for why presidents are unable to move public opinion by going public. He argues that variation in characteristics of the messenger, message content, and dwindling audience sizes may explain presidents' inability to penetrate the public mindset. One possibility not considered is that presidential communications do not occur in a vacuum. Even if they attract less media attention, opposition party communications may constrain the impact of the president's efforts by articulating alternative viewpoints and criticism.
Out-party responses to the president's State of the Union message provide an ideal opportunity to study the possibility that rebuttals to presidential messages affect the impact of the president's efforts. In accord with Edwards' (2003) theoretical framework, I also consider the impact of the out-party "messengers" on overall effectiveness. In my view, characteristics of the out-party messengers selected to respond to the presidential address can be consequential. I investigate these claims by examining the rebutter selections of out-party between 1966 and 2006. I then develop and estimate an empirical model to explain the impact of strategic decisions about rebutter selection on the effectiveness of the president's State of the Union message as measured by public approval.
Who Fires Back? Out-Party Rebuttals 1966-2006
The out-party has delivered 35 televised responses to the president's State of the Union addresses over the past forty years. (2) Details about the out-party representatives selected to present the opposition response appear in the appendix. A summary of these details appear in Table 1.
Analyses of these data reveal there has been considerable variation in the number of out-party members to deliver a response to the State of the Union between 1966 and 2006. The first two responses were delivered by only two out-party members, representing both chambers of Congress. In both 1966 and 1967, Senator Dirksen and Congressman Ford delivered the response. Several responses, especially between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, brought together relatively sizable groups of elected officials to deliver the response. In 1968, for example, the Republican Party recruited 16 members to respond to President Lyndon Johnson's message, the largest group to ever deliver a rebuttal. On average, the out-party response has been delivered by three representatives of the opposition party.
Table 1 also shows there is considerable variation in terms of the institutional affiliations of opposition party members selected to deliver responses to the State of the Union. Overall, two U.S. senators and two U.S. House of Representative members on average are included in the group of rebutters. Occasionally, the out-party will ask one of its governors to respond to the president's address, and, in one instance (1986), the Democrats asked Harriett Woods, Missouri's lieutenant governor to respond. Most of the opposition party rebutters during the period 1966-2006 (48% on average) are U.S. senators, although 40% of the rebutters are House members. The average group also consists of 12% governors and 11% women.
Table 2 presents details about partisan differences in the composition of the groups of out-party representatives selected to deliver responses to the president's State of the Union address. Data presented in Table 2 suggest Democratic rebuttals are delivered by larger groups of rebutters: four on average compared to three for Republicans. The typical group of Democratic rebutters also includes two senators and two House members (compared to one senator and one House member for Republicans). However, because Democratic rebuttal groups tend to be larger, the proportion of senators in the overall group is lower for Democrats than for Republicans (45% to 54%, respectively). The proportion of governors included in Democratic rebuttal groups also exceeds Republicans by nearly a two-to-one margin (14% to 8%, respectively). The Republican Party appears to showcase its female members more so than the Democratic party does in terms of members it selects to present the State of the Union response: 16% of Republican rebutters are women compared to 8% of Democratic rebutters. (3)
Table 3 reports partisan differences in the overall ideology of the group of out-party responders. I measure ideology using the DW-Nominate scores developed by Poole and Rosenthal (1997). (4) Measured on a scale that ranges from -1 (most liberal) to +1 (most conservative), I average the ideology of all representatives in the group of rebutters to determine an overall estimate of the out-party response group. The data presented in
Table 3 indicates that groups of Democratic rebuttals tend to be more ideologically extreme than Republican rebutters are over the period of this study. Moreover, I also examine the ideological distance between the ideology of the out-party rebuttal group and the president who delivers the State of the Union address. I find that Democrats tend to designate rebutters or rebuttal groups that are ideologically more distant from the president than are Republican groups of rebutters.
Ten of the 35 out-party rebuttals I examine are delivered during presidential election years. Because it is reasonable to expect that the parties' strategic considerations will differ during electoral cycles, I assess differences in the composition of rebuttal groups in presidential and non-presidential election years. These data are presented in Table 4. The evidence reveals the total number of rebutters is greater in presidential election years (five rebutters on average, compared to three in nonpresidential election years). The data also show that the out-party designates more senators to respond to the president during presidential election years (three versus one, respectively). Overall, 60% of rebutters are U.S. senators in presidential election years, compared to 44% in nonpresidential years. Even as the number of rebutters who are U.S. House members doubles in presidential election years (from one to two, respectively), the overall proportion of House members does not differ much between presidential and nonpresidential election years. Table 4 also reveals that out-parties simply do not designate governors to respond to the president's State of the Union message during presidential election years.
I may also expect that out-parties will attempt to project ideological moderation more so during presidential election cycles than in other years by designating groups of rebutters that are ideologically more moderate. Data presented in Table 5 provide some empirical evidence along these lines. The details indicate that the Republican Party has, in fact, designated more moderate rebutters in presidential years compared to nonpresidential years (0.258 average group ideology versus 0.367, respectively), but Democratic responders' ideology is nearly identical in both presidential and nonpresidential years (-0.388 and -.0389, respectively).
Developments over Time
In this section, I analyze developments over time with respect to out-party selections of State of the Union rebutters. In theory, parties can incorporate information about the effectiveness of decisions about the composition of rebuttal groups in order to be strategic and to maximize impact. Assessments about patterns of compositional changes over time may reveal key insights about lessons the out-parties may have learned over the four decade period I examine. (5)
Perhaps the most evident trend over this period is the steady decline (statistically significant at the p < .01 level) in the overall number of responders designated by the out-party to rebut presidential State of the Union addresses. Analysis of the data suggests much of this erosion is fueled by developments in the Democratic Party, which historically designated larger groups of rebutters. In the most recent responses, both parties designate no more than two representatives to deliver rebuttals. In fact, no more than two rebutters have responded to the State of the Union since 1986.
The mix of the levels of elected officials tapped to deliver out-party responses has also changed markedly over the period of my study. For example, the overall number, as well as the proportion, of U.S. senators designated to respond to the State of the Union generally declined between 1966 and 2006. Even as rebuttals are often delivered only by U.S. senators (1994, 1996, 1998), it is not unusual, especially since the mid-1980s, to find no senators responding to the president's State of the Union message. Much of this decline is driven by developments in the Democratic Party. Democrats increasingly overlook senators in designating rebutters to the annual message. Similarly, the overall number of House members asked to respond to the State of the Union has also dropped over the past four decades. Since the mid-1980s, no more than one House member has participated in a rebuttal (except in 1999 when two House members delivered the Republican response), and no House members have responded in 7 of the past 12 responses. Despite this decline, the proportion of House members who participate in a response group has remained relatively stable over this period, at roughly 40% of the rebuttal group. I find no evidence of significant, partisan differences in the proportion of House members who deliver rebuttals over time.
Above I noted that governors are only occasionally designated to respond to the president's State of the Union address, but my evidence suggests clear differences over the period I examine. Out-parties are increasingly turning to state executives to respond. Both the overall number as well as the proportion of governors tapped to respond to the president's message appear to be on the rise during this period. This trend is most pronounced in the Democratic Party, which has turned exclusively to governors to respond to the president in two of the four most recent rebuttals. Republicans, conversely, have only designated one governor to respond to Democratic presidents' State of the Union message: in 1995 when New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman delivered the rebuttal.
Next I examine patterns in the total number of women designated by the out-party to deliver responses to the State of the Union between 1966 and 2006. The data indicate there were no female responders in 14 out the 35 rebuttals included in the analysis. One female rebutter was designated to respond in 10 of the 35 rebuttals, and, in 1972, Democrats selected 2 women to be part of the 11-member group that delivered the rebuttal. Still, the number of female responders relative to the overall size of the group appears to be on the rise over this period. Moreover, both of the major parties are increasing the proportion of female responders in rebuttal groups.
Evidence of ideological polarization in recent years is ample (Bond and Fleisher 2000). I find the overall ideology (using available DW-Nominate ideology scores) of out-party representatives selected to respond to the presidents' State of the Union addresses has also polarized between 1966 and 2006. Analysis of my data reveals both parties' rebutters have become growingly ideologically polarized over time. Between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, Republican rebutters' overall ideology was increasingly moderate. The trend in Republican rebutters' ideology began to reverse in a more conservative direction in the early 1980s. Democratic responders' ideology overall also exhibits signs of growing moderation until the late 1980s when it began to shift toward a more liberal position. Taken together, these two developments indicate the parties' State of the Union rebutters have never been as ideologically polarized as they have been in the most recent years included in the analysis.
Explaining the Effectiveness of Presidential State of the Union Addresses: The Impact of Strategic Choices in Rebuttals
In the sections above, I have described the empirical evidence about out-party selections of representatives to respond to the president's State of the Union message. I have also identified trends and developments over time in an effort to gauge the parties' strategies and choices over a period of four decades. In this section, I examine the extent to which rebuttal selection decisions affect the effectiveness of out-party's message relative to the president's agenda. The analyses that follow are designed to help explain how choices about out-party responses impact the effectiveness of presidential State of the Union addresses.
To estimate the impact of out-party rebuttals on the effectiveness of a president's State of the Union address to Congress, I adopt a measure proposed by Edwards (2003). I calculate the impact of the president's State of the Union address as the difference in public support as reflected by Gallup opinion surveys immediately before and after the delivery of the State of the Union. I argue that the president's effectiveness is mitigated by the effectiveness of the out-party's response to his address. Therefore, effective outparty rebuttals will curtail increases in presidential approval that can be attributed to the delivery of his State of the Union message.
Contrary to the view that presidential delivery of public addresses enhances support for the chief executive (Kernell 1997), presidential approval generally drops following the State of the Union message. Analysis of Gallup polls before and after the State of the Union suggest presidential approval falls 0.11 percentage points (standard deviation = 3.79; n = 35) following the address. Over the period of my study, President Johnson fared worst after his delivery of the 1968 State of the Union: his approval dropped 8 percentage points. By contrast, President Clinton registers the largest increase in approval (+7 percentage points) following his State of the Union address in 1996.
To what extent is the effectiveness of presidents' State of the Union messages linked to the opposition party's selection of representatives to respond to the address? I begin my analysis to examine this question by comparing the average change in presidential approval by isolating groups of rebutters comprised exclusively of senators, governors, or members of the U.S. House. These data, presented in Table 5, suggest House members most effectively rebut presidential State of the Union messages. The average shift in presidential approval that can be attributed to the delivery of the State of the Union is -2.60 percentage points when the rebuttal group is comprised exclusively by members of the U.S. House. Rebuttals delivered exclusively by governors are associated with an average shift of +0.67 percentage points in approval, and those delivered only by senators result in an average shift of +1.38 percentage points in presidential approval. These analyses suggest senators fail to effectively rebut presidential State of the Union addresses. This may be one reason out-parties are turning to Senators less frequently as responders.
For a more systematic treatment, I develop and estimate an empirical model to explain changes in presidential approval following the State of the Union address for the period 1966-2006. The results are presented in Table 6. To minimize the effects of outliers, I employ robust regression. The dependent variable in my analyses is the change in presidential approval registered by the Gallup poll immediately before and after delivery of the State of the Union. I examine the impact of the following variables on changes in presidential approval levels: total number of rebutters, the proportion of senators, governors (House members are the excluded category), and women selected to rebut, rebutter ideology and rebutters' ideological distance from the incumbent president. I also control for the out-party.
The results of the model suggest the size of the group of rebutters does influence the effectiveness of the president's message. Controlling for the other variables in the model, the coefficient suggests the larger groups of out-party rebutters are likely to only enhance presidential approval. Thus, smaller groups of rebutters dampen the effectiveness of the president's address and strengthen the out-party's response. It is conceivable that smaller groups of respondents present a clearer, more cohesive rebuttal compared to a larger and potentially more disparate group. The estimates suggest the change in the president's approval grows by nearly half of a percentage point for each additional rebutter included in the out-party response team.
The results of the model show that as the proportion of U.S. senators in the group of out-party rebutters increases, relative to the proportion of U.S. House members in the group (the base category), presidential approval is likely to rise. This finding supports my initial observation (described above) that senators do not appear to deliver effective rebuttals to the presidential State of the Union address compared with governors or members of the U.S. House. The proportion of women in the out-party rebuttal group does not appear to be related to changes in presidential approval.
My empirical model also investigates the impact of the ideological composition of the group of out-party rebutters (see Table 7). My measure of rebutter ideology is the absolute value of the average ideology of the group of rebutters. I use DW-Nominate scores to determine ideology. (6) I also construct a measure of the distance between the ideology of the president delivering the State of the Union address and the ideology of the rebuttal group. Although the overall ideology of the rebutters does not exert influence on the effectiveness of the president's State of the Union address, my findings suggest that out-parties benefit by designating respondents who are ideologically distant from the president.
This study presents the first systematic examination of out-party responses to the president's State of the Union message. I present evidence to describe patterns in the selection of out-party respondents to the annual message over a period of four decades. I also investigate how choices about out-party response to the president can curtail presidential efforts to boost public support via direct, televised communications with Americans. My analyses suggest the out-party's decisions about which members will represent the party to deliver a response to the president's message affect the overall effectiveness of the president's message. I argue that incorporating elements of out-party response to models of presidential leadership as it relates to moving public opinion would provide a more complete view of the complex process by which the public reacts to presidential messages. At the very least, out-party responses to the president, which have largely escaped scholarly scrutiny, have the potential to be consequential as mitigating factors in this process.
Appendix Year Response 1966 Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL) Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI) 1967 Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-IL) Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI) 1968 Senator Thomas Kuchel (R-CA) Senator Charles Percy (R-IL) Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) Senator Hugh Scott (R-PA) Senator John Tower (R-TX) Senator Peter Dominick (R-CO) Senator Robert R Griffin (R-MI) Senator George Murphy (R-CA) Rep. William Steiger (R-WI) Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI) Rep. Richard Poff (R-VA) Rep. George Bush (R-TX) Rep. Robert Mathias (R-CA) Rep. Charlotte Reid (R-IL) Rep. Albert Quie (R-MN) Rep. Melvin Laird (R-WI) 1970 Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-WA) * Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) * Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) Rep. John McCormack (D-MA) Rep. Donald Fraser (D-MN) 1971 Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) 1972 Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) Senator Frank Church (D-ID) Senator Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) Rep. Leonor Sullivan (D-MO) Rep. John Melcher (D-MT) Rep. John Brademas (D-IN) Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-MI) Rep. Ralph Metcalfe (D-IL) Rep. Carl Albert (D-OK) Rep. Hale Boggs (D-LA) 1974 Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) 1975 Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) Rep. Carl Albert (D-OK) 1976 Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) 1978 Senator Howard Baker Jr. (R-TN) * Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) 1979 Senator Howard Baker Jr. (R-TN) Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) 1980 Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) Rep. John Rhodes (R-AZ) 1982 Senator Donald Riegle (D-MI) Senator James Sasser (D-TN) Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va) Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) * Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) * House Speaker Thomas P O'Neill (D-MA) Rep. Albert Gore Jr. (D-TN) 1983 Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA) Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-MA) Rep. Tom Daschle (D-SD) Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-CT) Rep. George Miller (D-CA) Rep. Les AuCoin (D-OR) Rep. Paul Simon (D-IL) Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-CO) Rep. W.G. "Bill" Hefner (D-NC) 1984 Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) Sen. David Boren (D-OK) Senator Carl M. Levin (D-MI) Senator Max S. Baucus (D-MT) Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) Senator Clairborne Pell (D-RI) Senator Walter Huddleston (D-KY) House Speaker Thomas O'Neill (D-MA) Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-FL) Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Rep. William Gray(D-PA) Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 1985 Gov. Bill Clinton (D-AK) Gov. Bob Graham (D-FL) House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-MA). 1986 Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) Rep. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) Rep. William Gray (D-PA) Gov. Charles Robb (D-VA) Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods (D-MO) 1987 Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) 1988 Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) 1989 Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) 1990 House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) 1991 Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) 1992 House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) 1994 Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) 1995 Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ) 1996 Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) 1997 Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) 1998 Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) 1999 Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) Rep. Steven Largent (R-OK) 2000 Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) Senator William Frist (R-TN) 2002 Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) 2003 Governor Gary Lock (D-WA) 2004 Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 2005 Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 2006 Governor Timothy Kaine (D-VA) Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Clerk. http://clerk.house.gov/histHigh/Special_Exhibits/stateUnion.html. * Presidential candidate in cycle that follows.
Baum, Matthew, and Samuel Kernell. 2001. "Economic Class and Popular Support for Franklin Roosevelt in War and Peace." Public Opinion Quarterly 65: 218-23.
Bond, Jon, and Richard Fleisher, eds. 2000. Polarized Politics: Congress and the President in a Partisan Era. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Brace, Paul, and Barbara Hinkley. 1992. Follow the Leader. New York: Basic Books.
Cohen, Jeffrey. 1997. Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy-Making. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Edwards, George C. 2003. On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Erikson, Robert, and Christopher Wlezien. 1999. "Presidential Polls as a Time Series: The Case of 1996." Public Opinion Quarterly 63: 163-77.
Kernell, Samuel. 1997. Going Public, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Neustadt, Richard. 1960. Presidential Power: The Politics of Leadership. New York: Wiley.
Poole, Keith, and Howard Rosenthal. 1997. Congress: A Political-Economic History of Roll-Call Voting. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ragsdale, Lyn. 1984. "The Politics of Presidential Speechmaking, 1949-1980." American Political Science Review 78: 971-84.
Simon, Dennis, and Charles Ostrom Jr. 1989. "The Impact of Televised Speeches and Foreign Travel on Presidential Approval." Public Opinion Quarterly 53: 58-82.
(1.) This summary is adapted from details available from the U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk, http://clerk.house.gov/histHigh/Special_Exhibits/stateUnion.html.
(2.) In the six years rebuttals were not offered (1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, 1993, and 2001), presidential inaugurations occurred. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan offered a speech to Congress on economic recovery, but no rebuttal was given. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush was elected to office and offered a special message to Congress, "Building a Better America;" House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) and Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) responded on behalf of the Democratic Party. In 1993, President Bill Clinton offered a budget address after his inauguration. In 2001, President George W. Bush also delivered an annual budget message, but no response was delivered. In 2005, after his reelection Bush delivered a State of the Union address.
(3.) I note these partisan differences, but I underscore that they do not achieve significance at conventional levels.
(5.) I employ lowess smoothing procedures to detect patterns over time. Lowess (locally weighted scatter plot smoothing) creates a new value for each time point based on the results of regressions using a designated number of surrounding data points. Predictions from these regressions are weighted based on their temporal distance from the point in question to generate the new value (Erikson and Wlezien 1999). For simplicity, figures and additional details are not presented but available upon request.
(6.) DW-Nominate scores for ideology are not available for governors. These cases are excluded from the analysis.
Costas Panagopoulos is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University.
TABLE 1 Descriptive Statistics: Mean Levels of Rebutter Characteristics, 1966-2006 Mean Std. Dev. Min Max Total 3.31 3.95 1 16 Senators 1.60 2.16 0 8 Senators (%) 0.48 0.36 0 1 House 1.51 2.16 0 8 House (%) 0.40 0.34 0 1 Governors 0.20 0.53 0 2 Governors (%) 0.12 0.30 0 1 Women 0.34 0.54 0 2 Women (%) 0.11 0.22 0 1 N = 35. Note: In 1986, Lt. Governor Harriett Woods (D-MO) was part of the Democratic group that delivered the response to President Ronald Reagan's State of the Union address. For the purposes of this study, Woods is included in the analyses as a governor. TABLE 2 Partisan Differences in Rebuttals: Mean Levels of Rebutter Characteristics, 1966-2006 OUT-PARTY Republican Democrat Total 2.69 3.68 (4.03) (3.95) Senators (Total) 1.39 1.73 (2.06) (2.25) Senators (%) 0.54 0.45 (0.38) (0.36) House (Total) 1.23 1.68 (2.13) (2.21) House (176) 0.39 0.41 (0.36) (0.33) Gov. (Total) 0.08 0.27 (0.28) (0.63) Gov. (176) 0.08 0.14 (0.28) (0.32) Women (Total) 0.31 0.36 (0.48) (0.58) Women (176) 0.16 0.08 (0.31) (0.15) N 13 22 Note: Standard deviations in parentheses. Differences across categories are not significant at conventional levels. TABLE 3 Partisan Differences in Rebutter Ideology (Mean), 1966-2006 OUT-PARTY Republican Democrat Rebutter Ideology (Abs. 0.331 0.389 ** value of Mean) (0.031) (0.017) Distance from Pres. 0.781 0.897 *** Ideology (0.029) (0.017) N 12 20 Note: Standard deviations in parentheses. Differences across categories significant at ** p <.05 and *** p <.01 levels. TABLE 4 Differences in Rebuttals by Presidential Election Year: Mean Levels of Rebutter Characteristics, 1966-2006 No Pres. Election Pres. Election Total 2.64 5.00 ** Senators (Total) 1.20 2.60 ** Senators (%) 0.44 0.60 House (Total) 1.20 2.40 * House (%) 0.40 0.41 Gov. (Total) 0.28 0.0 * Gov. (%) 0.16 0.0 * Women 0.24 0.60 ** Women (%) 0.10 0.13 N 25 10 Note: Differences across categories are significant at * p <.10 and ** p < .05 levels. TABLE 5 Partisan Differences in Rebutter Ideology (Mean) by Election Year OUT-PARTY Republican Democrat Presidential 0.258 -0.388 (0.074) (0.072) N=4 N=6 Nonpresidential 0.367 -0.389 (0.104) (0.080) N=8 N=14 Note: Standard deviations in parentheses. TABLE 6 Average Change in Approval by Rebuttal Group Rebuttals Average Change N Senator(s) Only +1.38 8 (4.66) House Member(s) Only -2.60 5 (3.36) Governor(s) Only +0.67 3 (1.52) Note: Standard deviations in parentheses. TABLE 7 Impact of Out-Party Responses on Change in Presidential Approval Following State of the Union Address, 1966-2006 Dependent variable: Change in Presidential Approval Before and After State of Union (Gallup) Independent variable Total Rebutters .48 *** (.18) Senators (%) .04 * (.02) Governors (% ) .03 (.05) Female (%) .01 (.05) Rebutter Ideology 19.20 (12.85) Distance from Presidential Ideology -54.08 *** (16.12) Out-Party Democrat 1.22 (1.78) Year .30 *** (.10) Constant -558.73 *** (184.81) 32 Note: Robust regression. Standard errors in parentheses. Estimates significant at *** p < .01, ** p < .05 and * p < .10 levels, two-tailed.…
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Publication information: Article title: Polls and Elections: Firing Back: Out-Party Responses to Presidential State of the Union Addresses, 1966-2006. Contributors: Panagopoulos, Costas - Author. Journal title: Presidential Studies Quarterly. Volume: 41. Issue: 3 Publication date: September 2011. Page number: 604+. © 1999 Center for the Study of the Presidency. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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