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date: 27 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

What executives are and what they do in democratic regimes should obviously be affected by public opinion. This occurs not only through the electoral process, but also through the influence that, in the interim, public attitudes exert on (re)election-minded politicians. But what drives public support for executives? This chapter focuses on four types of determinants: outcomes, processes, events, and time. After describing the findings of the early social-scientific studies on executive support of the 1970s and 1980s, we address the multiple caveats and contingencies that resulted from expanding these approaches to contexts different from those in which they originated. The result has been an increasing attention to heterogeneity: of effects, information levels, political and institutional contexts, and publics. Understanding this heterogeneity will be vital as we move more decisively in the future to the empirical study of the relationship between public opinion and the formation, survival, and (re)composition of executives.

Keywords: executive approval, economic voting, rally around the flag, clarity of responsibility, myopic voters, thermostatic model, executive stability

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