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Geer, John G. From Tea Leaves to Opinion Polls. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.


After Lincoln’s death, German-American leader Carl Schurz wrote: “Lincoln’s strength consisted not in his genius, for he did not possess actual genius. He was strong because he was the living embodiment of the popular will. He felt instinctively the convictions and determination of the people because these went through the same course of development in him as in the masses; and what he said and did was the popular opinion expressed in the popular speech and fulfilled in the popular manner. For this reason he was slow in taking steps, and never stepped backward.”39 Schurz occasionally thought he understood public opinion better than the President, but learned better.

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Keep a lid on legislative shenanigans

Edwards, George C., III, and William G. Howell, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. DOI:

Watered-down Everglades reservoir falls short

The truth of this depends on what the meaning of the word "almost" is. In February 2004, for example, Bush mocked Kerry -- he referred to him as "one senator from Massachusetts" -- as being "for tax cuts and against them. For NAFTA and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq and opposed to it." The next month, Bush accused Kerry by name of being "willing to gut the intelligence services" with a "deeply irresponsible" proposal to cut intelligence spending. There is no record of Republicans complaining that these political assaults were beneath a president.

I'm a gun owner and I support a weapons ban

Page, Benjamin, and Robert Shapiro. The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans’ Policy Preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. DOI:

Poll: Should armed teachers be permitted in Florida classrooms?

The conversation around what for some is the tantalizing prospect of an Oprah Winfrey presidential run in 2020 conforms to a familiar pattern in presidential politics.

Know what to do during a shooting

Often we elect presidents who are very different from their immediate predecessors by their politics and temperament. Examples are Barack Obama after George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter after Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford.

Let's get specific about mental health fixes

There is also an advantage in Obama directly taking on Romney's background in private equity at Bain Capital. By raising these questions himself, Obama signaled that he would not let criticisms from such Democrats as Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker force him to back down from a challenge he knows he needs to lodge against Romney's claims as a "job creator." By the end of last week, Booker had eased off while the Bain issue was still alive, to the point that even Rush Limbaugh was forced to acknowledge that private equity was about profit-making, not job creation.

App will let football fans call their own plays

Offers a comprehensive look at collective opinion change over time and identifies issues where public opinion has and has not followed the president’s policy agenda.

March political cartoons from the USA TODAY Network

It would be hard to imagine two more dissimilar candidates in 2020 than Ms. Winfrey and Donald Trump. It would not be surprising if the country turns to someone like Ms. Winfrey next time. She certainly would impart the kind of values and compassion a majority of Americans are now missing.