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Drury University political science professor Daniel Ponder’s book “Presidential Leverage: Presidents, Approval and the American State” explores the implications of presidential popularity.
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Drury University political science professor Daniel Ponder’s book “Presidential Leverage: Presidents, Approval and the American State” explores the implications of presidential popularity.

Professor writes book on presidential approval ratings

Daniel Ponder of Drury University publishes project with Stanford University Press.

Posted online

Daniel Ponder, professor of political science at Drury University, explores the implications of presidential popularity in his currently available book “Presidential Leverage: Presidents, Approval and the American State.”

“Approval ratings are usually reported like a vacuum, dissociated from the American state as a whole,” a Drury news release says. “Ponder’s research reveals how these ratings shape presidential strategies by situating them within the context of public trust in government.”

Published by Stanford University Press, the book examines presidencies from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. The book’s manuscript was finalized in December 2016 prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, Ponder said the book’s online index at StanfordPress.Typepad.com has been updated with data concerning the first year of the Trump administration.

Ponder said he hopes readers will attain a better education on the organization of power within American government. Often, he said, Americans view the highest power in the nation as the presidency. However, that is not the case.

“Article I has the most power, that’s Congress. Article II is the presidency and article III is the judiciary. Especially from the 20th century on, it didn’t happen overnight, but the presidency has taken over as the most powerful institution,” he said. “Let’s look at the presidency, but also look at him embedded in a separation of powers in other competing co-equal branches.” 

Ponder said the idea for the book began when he wrote a few papers on the topic in 1996. He didn’t begin working on the manuscript, however, until 2012.

“It’s older than my children, and I have children in college,” he said of the initial idea. “Once I decided to make it into a book, it was summers and Christmas breaks from fall 2012 on.”

Although Ponder said he is unsure if there will be a second edition of the book, the index will continue to grow online.

“I’ve updated through the first year of Trump’s presidency,” he told Springfield Business Journal this morning. “So I imagine I will extend it a little bit. There are some other things, some findings that I want to kind of flesh out a little bit.”
Ponder is the director of the Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship at Drury University. He also previously wrote the book, “Good Advice: Information and Policy Making in the White House,” published with Texas A&M University Press.

Ponder additionally is a commentator on American and Missouri politics, according to the news release, for news outlets including National Public Radio Morning Edition, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and CBS Radio.

“Presidential Leverage” is available at SUP.org and Amazon.

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