This blog focuses on presidential elections and politics and is oriented primarily toward anyone interested in understanding how we choose presidents and how the presidency works. It grew out of emails I initially distributed to my Middlebury College students at the start of the 2008 (actually 2007) presidential nominating season. My objective was to provide my students with a running commentary on the campaign, but from the perspective of political science. What could political science research tell them about the campaign events that the media couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say? By providing more in-depth analysis rooted in political science research and with a broader historical perspective, I hoped to provide a better understanding of the election. In my commentary I tried to avoid presenting my opinion as fact and instead readily acknowledged when my interpretation was as much conjecture as it was derived from solid research. That remains my goal today. Gradually, the distribution list grew to include students’ friends, parents, parents’ friends and, eventually, members of the “punditocracy” including the media. At this point I was persuaded to simultaneously post the emails on this blog site, which is hosted by Middlebury College. And so the Presidential Power blog was born. The title, as my students know, pays homage to the seminal work by political scientist and self-professed presidency watcher Richard Neustadt, who also happened to be my dissertation adviser and later, colleague.
Although my readership may have broadened, my target audience remains the same: students who may be interested in learning more about presidential politics.