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The Presidency in a Partisan Era

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Date and time
Thursday, October 04, 2012

When an incumbent is running, presidential elections are primarily – normally – referenda on the incumbent’s performance. Knowing this, the logical incentive for the out-party is to try to ensure that the incumbent president fails. Some observers believe congressional Republicans and their allies outside Congress have followed this logic over the past four years. Yet discussions of this pattern often treat it with surprise – as if partisanship in the past was not so extreme. Republicans would reply that the charge itself is extreme partisanship. Either way, there is a sense that partisan conflict has burst some bounds. If so, what does that tell us about what Presidents can accomplish? Would the answer be the same for a President Romney as for President Obama? There is good reason to believe the U.S. has a new party system. How can the Presidency fit into it, with what consequences?

Jeffrey E. Cohen received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1979. After teaching at, among other institutions, the Universities of Alabama, Illinois, and Kansas, he joined the Fordham faculty in 1997. This June, he escaped from a term as Department Chair. Professor Cohen has published extensively in the major political science journals, including the _American Political Science Review_, the _American Journal of Political Science_, and the _Journal of Politics_. His books include _[Presidential Responsiveness and Public Policy](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0472086308/)_ (1997, University of Michigan Press), which won the 1998 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association; _[The Presidency in an Era of 24 Hour News](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/069113717X/)_ (2008, Princeton University Press); and _[Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0521141435/)_ (2010, Cambridge University Press), which was awarded the Goldsmith Book Prize from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Policy of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. His newest book is _[The President’s Legislative Policy Agenda, 1789-2002](https://smile.amazon.com/Presidents-Legislative-Policy-Agenda-1789-2002/)_. Professor Cohen earned his B.A. from CWRU in 1973. [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31NIxpBZ6CL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1107443695/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41rMj84wbpL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/069113717X/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71mo30rsKvL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0521141435/) [![](https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/41dQIOT9g3L._AC_UY218_ML3_.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/Presidents-Legislative-Policy-Agenda-1789-2002/dp/1107012708/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51LNU-XKqEL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0472086308/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81MPtUMkGsL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/0822985098/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71IuU2W6+BL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/Politics-Telecommunications-Regulation-Divestiture-University/dp/B011YTY6NW/) [![](https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41ckPRc3JpL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243.jpg)](https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K13KYTW/ target='_blank')