Governing by Campaigning

George C. Edwards  
Total pages
April 2007
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One of the foremost experts on the presidency, George Edwards, explores how the Bush administration has attempted sweeping changes in public policy – without broad support for doing so – by taking its case directly to the American public more than any other president in history.


  • This brief provocative text examines the successes and failures of the governing style of George W. Bush.
  • Edwards includes an analysis of the Bush administration's goals and strategies in 2006 to pass an immigration policy and an update after the 2006 elections.
  • Edwards makes a provocative, engaging argument: that George W. Bush has tried — often with limited success —  to make sweeping changes in public policy and influence Congress by attempting to persuade and mobilize the American people.  Concrete examples include the failed campaign to change social security.
  • Balanced perspective that will appeal to both conservative and liberal audiences.
  • Utilizing the notion that the Bush administration is engaged in a “permanent campaign,” the text resonatas with faculty who adhere to a 'rational choice' perspective. 
  • Authored by one of the premier presidency scholars in the country, George C. Edwards, III, this book offers an authoritative account of the Bush presidency.




New to this Edition

This 2007 edition includes new material on public opinion, Congress, the 2006 midterm elections, and an analysis of the Bush administration's goals and strategies in efforts to pass an immigration policy.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Policy and Polarization: The Context of Governing

Chapter 2: Going Public: A Strategy for Governing

Chapter 3: Persuading the Public

Chapter 4: Public Opinion on the President

Chapter 5: Leading in Congress

Chapter 6: Reforming Social Security, Part I: Going Public

Chapter 7: Reforming Social Security, Part II: Persuading the Public and Congress

Chapter 8: Governing by Campaigning

Back Cover

'In a volume that is at once packed with illustrative detail and broadly accessible, renowned presidency scholar George Edwards sets his sights on George Bush's dogged efforts to cultivate and hone public support for the most far reaching policy agenda in recent memory. A pure pleasure to read.'
William G. Howell, University of Chicago


'George C. Edwards' book on fellow Texan George W. Bush's penchant for campaigning has broad implications for the presidency.  In identifying the hazards of persistently making one's case outside Washington, Edwards reveals the polarizing politics of our time.'
Charles O. Jones, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin


'Professor Edwards has produced a savvy analysis of George W. Bush's leadership style that accentuates why neither his reliance on the bully pulpit nor the heights of his public approval following 9/11 has translated into a groundswell of support in Congress or in the electorate.  Edwards...weaves together an impressive analysis of the perils of the rhetorical presidency as a governing strategy.'
Richard Conley, University of Florida


'Governing by Campaigning is an ideal case study of the modern presidency in action.  It demonstrates the intimate connection between the 'outside game' of leading the public and the 'inside game' of influencing the policy machinery in the nation's capital.'
Dennis Simon, Southern Methodist University


'A rigorous and fascinating analysis of how Bush attempted to transform policy nonincrementally despite having only narrow Republican congressional majorities.  Edwards skillfully illuminates the strategies used and what worked and what didn't.'
Barbara Sinclair, Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics, UCLA


'Professor Edwards' conclusions may stir partisans but his careful assembling of the evidence will lead many independent observers to take seriously President Bush's responsibility for partisan polarization, legislative gridlock, and public cynicism.  Although President Bush is still in office, Governing by Campaigning sets the terms of debate about his legacy.'
Lawrence R. Jacobs, Mondale Chair for Political Studies, University of Minnesota


George Edwards is the author of many books, including the recent 'Why the Electoral College is Bad for America' and 'On Deaf Ears: The Limits of the Bully Pulpit,' a study of the effectiveness of presidential leadership of public opinion. He was the founder and from 1991-2001 the director of the Center for Presidential Studies of the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service, where he now holds the George and Julia Blucher Jordan Chair in Presidential Studies.

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