Placing Presidential-Congressional Relations in Context: A Comparison of Barack Obama and His Predecessors Academic Article uri icon


  • What better accounts for Barack Obama's success with Congress, his political skills, or aspects of the political context, such as party control of Congress and public approval? To address this question, we update the Bond-Fleisher-Wood (BFW) political context model through 2010. The BFW model accounts for Obama's success vis-à-vis the House, and, to some extent, for the Senate as well. This article argues that increasing party polarization affects the relationship between party control and presidential success differently in the House and Senate. In the supermajoritiarian Senate, greater partisanship diminishes the effects of party control - in other words, as party polarization increases, presidential success declines for both majority and minority presidents. A comparison of Obama's success with that of previous presidents facing a similar context reveals no evidence that Obama has won significantly more often than should be expected given the context. © 2013 Northeastern Political Science Association.

author list (cited authors)

  • Cohen, J. E., Bond, J. R., & Fleisher, R.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013 11:11 AM

published in