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Power to Persuade: Presidential Influence Over Congress on Crime Control Policy

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 28 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2003 Pages: 113-132
Willard M. Oliver
Date Published
20 pages
This article discusses the theory of presidential influence over Congress related to crime control policy.
This study aims to determine whether the president’s activity on crime influences Congress to hold more hearings related to crime control policy. The study used a time series regression analysis to predict the impact that presidents have on Congress. Control variables were media, crime, and divided or undivided government. The hypothesis is that a president’s activities on crime influence the number of congressional hearings related to crime. Comparing trend data between presidential activity on crime and drugs and congressional hearings on crime and drugs shows similar patterns across the time series, lending some support to the hypothesis. The first model, which shows presidential influence over Congress within the same year, shows no support for the hypothesis. The only variable that proved to be highly significant in the first and second model was crime rates. Although the president was found to be a significant variable in the second model, it was clear that crime rates, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, were the only variable that was significant in both models. As crime rises, Congress responds with holding hearings in order to understand the causes of the increase in crime, to generate solutions to the rising crime rates, and to draft public laws or review public laws regarding crime and drugs. Both public opinion on crime and media reporting on crime had a significant influence in the lagged model. Although it is clear that the president is an influencing factor on congressional determination to hold hearings on crime and drugs with a 1 year lag, this is true only in relation with several other influencing factors. 1 figure, 3 tables, 11 footnotes, 78 references