Political Resources of the President

  1. 11.3 Assess the sources of the president’s political power, and analyze how presidents’ personality and policy positions impact their approval ratings.

The real sources of presidential power are not found in the Constitution. Political scientist Richard Neustadt argued that the president’s power is the power to persuade. As Harry Truman put it, “I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them…. That’s all the powers of the president amount to.”8

The president’s political resources are potentially very great. The nation looks to the president for leadership, for direction, for reassurance. The president is the focus of public and media attention. The president has the capacity to mobilize public opinion, to communicate directly with the American people, and to employ the symbols of office to advance policy initiatives in both foreign and domestic affairs.