Measuring and explaining elite opinion support levels of a president after a crisis event are important in understanding the nature of the executive-legislative branch interaction over time and under particular conditions. If a rally does in fact occur in Congress, the president may experience a span of increased influence where more members of Congress are less likely to disagree with his policies. A president may be more likely to push his agenda through a Congress with high presidential approval ratings, even if only temporarily. Rallies may be unique windows of opportunities for presidents to quickly introduce and pass laws. A president is more likely to achieve policy success with a favorable elite opinion. Studies that examine behavior of Congress during a rally have the potential to demonstrate that rallies affect elite opinion and that the president does have a temporary allotment of time where his policies have a higher probability of approval.
This study focuses on addressing the question on whether the rallies which affect mass opinion also affect elite opinion. The study will examine the changes in President Bush's support levels within the 107th Congress following the terrorist attacks of September 11; the study will only examine the House of Representatives during the 107th Congress. September 11 is a unique case as the public rally is unparalleled in size and is not representative of any previously measured rally. Nonetheless, September 11 is potentially not an anomaly amongst rallies; future rallies have the capability to be comparable in magnitude. The September 11 rally may be useful to make generalizations about future large-scale attacks, such as those using weapons of mass destruction. September 11 is the case of this study in order to extend the research on both rallies and the executive-legislative relationship.
Sheram, L. (2010). Measuring an Elite Opinion Rally in the House of Representatives: President George W. Bush and the 107th Congress (Undergraduate honors thesis, University of Redlands). Retrieved from http://inspire.redlands.edu/cas_honors/64