Informal powers of the president


The power to persuade

  • 'Presidential power is the power to persuade' - Profesor Richard Nuestadt ➪ Neustadt argued that because of power sharing its a key skill for an effective presidency ➪ use it to make connections with other political individuals to help them push their agendas in Congress.
  • Presidential score is valid through how many senators sided on an issue on which the president voiced his own opinion ➪ E.G. Obama enjoyed a presidential score of 96.7% in 2009, when the Democrats held both houses in Congress ➪ HOWEVER, numbers can be low during periods of divided government ➪ E.G. Obama's score dropped to 57% in 2011 after the Republicans won back the House.
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  • Presidents need the support of Congress to pass their legislation and may make deals with politicians to achieve this ➪ E.G. Might offer to support a policy, support election campaigning or deliver funding to their home state or district
  • During periods of divided government , bipartisan deal-making is essential to avoid gridlock ➪ E.G. Trump made bipartisan deals to pass the First Setep Act 2018, which reformed criminal justice
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Setting the agenda

  • Presidents command the media spotlight more than any other political figure in the US ➪ determine what issues are disscused by journalists, political comentators and the public.
  • They can help shape public opinion by making speeches or statements that argue their position ➪ E.G. In 2020, Trump descibed COVID-19 as the 'chinese virus' and blamed the  Chinese government for the global pandemic in an attempt to deflect blame from his own administration's response.  
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De facto party leader

  • Ine effect the head of their party, so can influence its membership ➪ particularly helpful if the president's party controls both houses in Congress ➪ if the president's party doesn't control Congress then their influence on their party will be limited ➪ E.G. as evidenced by Obama's low predidential score  of 45.7% in his final yaer in office
  • HOWEVER, even a president whose party controls Congress may not always have unconditional support ➪ E.G. In 2017, when the Republicans controlled both houses but Trump was unable to convince Congress to repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act 2010.
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World leader

  • USA dominates gobal politics and international institutions such as the UN, NATO, WTO and the G7 group of advanced economies.
  • E.G. Reagan led Western democracies against the USSR during the Cold War.
  • E.G. Following 9/11, George W. Bush led an international coalition in the 'war on terror'.
  • E.G. Obama convinced nations to sign up to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  • Trump showed less interest in international leadership ➪ E.G. Withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement and Iran nuclear deal and sent mixed signals about US commitment to NATO.
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Direct authority and stretching of implied powers

  • Direct authority means the power to take action directly, without consulting Congress.


  • Order made by the president directly to the federal government  ➪ has the effect of law but can easily be reversed by the next president, unlike laws passed by Congress.
  • E.G. Eisenhower famously used an executive order in 1957 to send federal troops to enforce racial desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.


  • Use signing statements when they sign a bill into law but wish to comment on it ➪ may make a positive comment, or argue that aspects of the bill are unconsitutional and their government will not enforce them.
  • Signing statements can also be used to critices  legislation ➪ E.G. Trump used a signing statement to criticise a 2017 bill for imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and NK, caliming it affected his constitutional powers to conduct foreign policy.
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Direct authority and stretching of implied powers


  • An agreement made by the USA and an international government ➪ do not require Senate ratification as a formal treaty would ➪ use them to avoid lengthy and potentially unproductive negotiations with senators.
  • They are easier to remove than treaties by the Senate and can be abandoned by a subsequent president ➪ E.G. Trump withdrew from Obama's 2015 Paris Agreement and his 2015 Iran Nuclear deal.
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Bureaucratic power

  • EXOP is a collection of office providing both policy advise and administrative support to the president.
  • EXOP was set up by Franklin D. Roosevelt and is yet another example of how he expanded the power of the presidency. 

Togther these offices help the president to : 

  • run the feredral government
  • develop policy
  • write legislation 
  • communicate with the public 
  • communicate with members of Congress
  • negotiate trade deals 
  • promote their agenda
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