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AP US Government and Politics
2003 FRQs
By Mitch White
mwhite@weberschool.org
Marist Summer Institute
July 14, 2010
2003 AP US Gov FRQ #1
•Presidential approval ratings fluctuate over the course of each presidential administration. –A. Identify two factors that decrease presidential approval ratings, and explain why each factor has that effect. –B. Identify two factors that decrease presidential approval ratings, and explain why each factor has that effect.

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Essential Questions
•What factors increase and decrease presidential approval ratings? •How or why do these factors change presidential approval ratings? 2003 AP US Government & Politics FRQs
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Vocabulary
•Presidential Approval Rating:
–The percentage of Americans who approve of the way the President is handling his job as President –As measured by a poll, most notably the Gallup Poll
–Presidential approval drives presidential influence, and his ability to get things done (especially getting legislation passed). –See Wilson, pp. 423-424

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Presidential Approval Ratings

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Presidential Scandals

Expectations Gap

Decline in Popularity over term (time)

Bad Economic Conditions
•Almost always lower presidential approval
•Exs: Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monica Lewinsky
•May be exceptions for especially good handling (e.g. “Checkers”) •Result of overly-ambitious campaign promises
•Exs: Carter (change D.C.), Bush 41 (“no new taxes”)
•Approval usually goes down overtime as “honeymoon” wears off •Exs: All Presidents from HST through BHO EXCEPT:
•Ford (Special case), Reagan & Clinton (Unusually gifted politicians) •President gets the blame (regardless of underlying causes) •Exs: Carter, Bush 41, Obama
FACTORS THAT CAN DECREASE PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATINGS




FACTORS THAT CAN DECREASE PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATINGS











Use of Media (“Spin”)

Good Economic Conditions

Reelection (Campaign Effect)

Most Foreign Policy Problems / Crises
FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATINGS
•Effective use of media (radio, TV, newspapers, Internet) can increase ratings above what they otherwise would be
•Exs: Kennedy, Reagan
•Note: Ineffective use of media does not in itself lower ratings •President gets the credit (regardless of underlying causes •Exs: Eisenhower 1st term, Reagan (post-1982), Clinton
•Note: Ineffective use of media does not in itself lower ratings •Effect of running / making oneself attractive
•Exs: Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984
•Crises almost always raise popularity in the short term
•Obvious exs: Release of Iranian hostages (RWR), 9/11 (GWB) •Less obvious exs: Bay of Pigs Invasion (JFK), Failed Iran hostage rescue attempt (JEC)
•But NOTE: Sustained international failures over a long period of can devastate presidential popularity (Vietnam, LBJ)

FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATINGS
















HOW or WHY
•Each explanation must include either how by…) or why (because…) the factor causes change in approval ratings, e.g.: –By allowing Americans to see the President in a positive light, the effective use of media can increase presidential approval ratings. (HOW) –International problems usually increase presidential approval ratings (at least in the short term), because Americans want to feel unified behind their leader in times of foreign crises (WHY)

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2003 AP US Gov FRQ #2
•Citizens often chose to participate in the political process in ways other than voting –A. Identify two forms of participation in the political process other than voting –B. Explain two advantages of each form of participation you identified in (A).

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