Presidents tend to emphasize favorable conditions and shift their public rhetoric away from negative conditions (e.g., Druckman, Jacobs, and Ostermeier 2004; Jacobs and Shapiro 1994).
We know that presidents try to shift public attention away from negative considerations (e.g., Druckman, Jacobs, and Ostermeier 2004; Jacobs and Shapiro 1994).
Large bodies of research catalogue the president's potential for using his privileged tools of communications to generate public focus or emphasis on subjects that advantage administration promotions while distracting attention from damaging topics (such as economic downturns and unpopular wars) (Cohen 1995; Druckman, Jacobs
, and Ostermeier 2004; Jacobs and Shapiro 1994).
Rather than banking on the daunting task of changing the public's basic preferences and beliefs, presidents work to "prime" individuals to focus on particular policy domains, image traits, and emotions (Druckman, Jacobs
, and Ostermeier 2004; Jacobs and Shapiro 2000).
Even when researchers have studied how presidents use their own private surveys, the findings make clear that the policy preferences of most Americans fail to dominate presidential policy (Druckman and Jacobs 2006, forthcoming; Druckman, Jacobs
, and Ostermeier 2004).
Overall, it appears that foreign policy events often lead to higher favorability ratings for the president--a finding that is consistent with Druckman, Jacobs, and Ostermeier (2004) and Druckman and Holmes (2004), who note that presidents seem to use foreign policy in particular to project an image of strength, leadership, and toughness.
(8.) For a discussion of presidents' attempts to prime the public on character issues and the public's reaction to them, see Druckman, Jacobs, and Ostermeier (2004) and Druckman and Holmes (2004).
Recent research has provided a comprehensive historical overview of the origins of presidential polling (Eisinger 2003; Towle 2004) and its use among White House officials (Heith 1998) as well as the impact of private survey results on the policy positions of John Kennedy during his presidential campaign (Jacobs 1992b, 1993; Jacobs and Shapiro 1994) and on efforts to shape the image of President Richard Nixon (Druckman, Jacobs
, and Ostermeier 2004; also cf.