Presidential source cues and policy appraisals, 1981-2000

Jeffery J. Mondak, Christopher J. Lewis, Jason C. Sides, Joohyun Kang, J. Olyn Long

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


To gain efficiency in political decision making, citizens rely on a great number of simplifying devices. One especially significant approach involves attention to elite political signals, or source cues. Although the nature of individual-level cue-based processing has been examined in numerous studies, less is known about the effects of elite signals on collective opinion. In this article, we expand on past quasi-experimental research in this area. Whereas previous research focused on the impact of source cues during the Reagan era, we broaden the analysis to include data from the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. Furthermore, we advance and test the thesis that the effects of presidential cues are contingent on baseline levels of policy support. Results reveal very strong effects of presidential approval on opinion about policy, findings that highlight the potential significance of presidential leadership of public opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Heuristics
  • Presidential approval
  • Public opinion
  • Source cues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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