History Shows Coattail Effect Not So Crucial to Presidents

By Chadk, Gail Russell | The Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

History Shows Coattail Effect Not So Crucial to Presidents


Chadk, Gail Russell, The Christian Science Monitor


The trifecta of national politics is for a candidate to win the White House and help his party win control of Congress on presidential "coattails."

But is it "game over" for a president when the other team controls the House, the Senate, or both? Not necessarily. Turns out, presidents don't always get what they want when their party has a majority on Capitol Hill or fail, when that majority is lost. Moreover, divided government can be the mother of legislative invention, forcing presidents to find common ground with a hostile Congress, if they can.

Past presidencies offer hints for dealing with a Congress of a different persuasion.

Numbers on 'our side' do not equal control

President Dwight Eisenhower, the World War II hero, was swept into office winning all but nine states and helping Republicans take control of the House and Senate on his coattails.

But rather than line up behind the new president, the GOP majority attacked his nominees, his legislative priorities on defense spending, and his presidential powers in foreign policy.

When Democrats won back control of the House and Senate in 1954 and kept it through the Eisenhower administration "it was a blessing in disguise," wrote Eisenhower biographer Jean Edward Smith. In short, Eisenhower made a tactical shift to the Democrats. Born in Texas, he developed close relations with House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson. The "three Texans" met weekly in joint strategy sessions that produced the Interstate Highway System and the St. Lawrence Seaway, expanded Social Security, raised the minimum wage, and established the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

President Jimmy Carter (D) a former Georgia governor who campaigned as a Washington "outsider" and tried to govern that way, too never established a working relationship with the Democrat- controlled Congress. Lawmakers complained that he lectured them and piled on more priorities than could be handled. Carter's agenda barely registered on Capitol Hill.

Divided party control of Congress is not fatal

President Ronald Reagan's 1980 election helped put Republicans in power in the Senate for the first time since 1953, but he never had a unified GOP majority in Congress to back his agenda. Reagan did not push the GOP's social agenda. Instead, he worked with some 40 conservative Democrats, such as then-Rep. Phil Gramm (D) of Texas, a member of the House Budget Committee who became a virtual surrogate for Reagan's "supply side" tax cuts and other economic proposals.

President Richard Nixon never had a Republican majority in either house. But he needed a legislative record to run on and made broad overtures to Democrats on issues ranging from welfare reform to a national health insurance partnership.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

History Shows Coattail Effect Not So Crucial to Presidents
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.