While scholars have traditionally evaluated the influence of presidential appeals on approval and policy preferences, we investigate a different site of possible effects: on the public's evaluations of whether the president represents the best interests of the country, embodies national values, and fulfills the essential obligations of his office — that is, whether he is presidential. We construct a novel presidentialism scale, which we show to be meaningfully distinct from other measures of perceptions of the president. Across four experiments conducted during the Trump presidency, we recover consistently positive and substantively large effects. Members of the public randomly encouraged to watch Trump's Inaugural Address were more likely to say that he fulfills the duties, expectations, and norms of his office. Though these effects attenuated in magnitude, they remained discernible in every experiment we conducted. We find no evidence that Trump's addresses changed people's policy views. Our findings point toward new ways of assessing the character and significance of presidential appeals.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 1 Special issue - The Political Economy of Executive Politics
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