Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Pushing the Agenda
Presidential Leadership in US Lawmaking, 1953–2004

$24.99 (P)

  • Date Published: February 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521162913

$ 24.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Today’s presidents enter office having campaigned on an ambitious policy agenda, eager to see it enacted, and willing to push so that it is. The central question of presidents’ legislative leadership, therefore, is not a question of resolve; it is a question of strategy: by what means can presidents build winning coalitions for their agenda? Pushing the Agenda uncovers the answer. It reveals the systematic strategies presidents employ to influence Congress and the conditions that determine when those strategies work – or don’t. Drawing on an eclectic array of original evidence – spanning presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush – Matthew N. Beckmann finds modern presidents’ influence in Congress is real, often substantial, and, to date, largely underestimated.

    • Presents a clear, portable theory that identifies the strategies all post war presidents have used to influence Congress
    • Behind the scenes data on presidential-congressional interactions drawn from elite interviews with more than 70 White House and congressional staffers
    • Clearest evidence to date of post war presidents' influence in Congress and national policy
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    “Pushing the Agenda breaks new ground in studying ‘positive’ presidential power. The argument is compelling, the case studies illuminating, and the systematic data and empirical analyses eye-opening. This is a must-read book for all presidential scholars and one of the best books on the presidency in years. It has changed the way I think about presidential-congressional relations.”
    – Charles M. Cameron, Princeton University

    “For a long time, we have known that important elements of presidential power express themselves through bargaining, negotiating, and lobbying. In this timely book, though, Matthew Beckmann goes beyond the fact of this occurrence in order to scrutinize its character. Beckmann presents altogether new findings on whom presidents target within Congress and, suggestively, with what effect. This book is sure to be a standard citation in the empirical literatures on executive-legislative relations.”
    – William Howell, University of Chicago

    “Quantitative studies of presidential-congressional relations over the past two decades have thoroughly established just how significantly the larger context limits the scope of individual presidential sway in the legislature. They have been far less effective, however, at systematically evaluating what presidents are able to accomplish with their margin of influence. Until now. Matthew Beckmann’s Pushing the Agenda pushes our understanding of presidential agency to new heights. Creatively blending simple formal modeling with a rich array of empirical measures, and combing close examination of the single case of the 2001 Bush tax cuts with expansive multivariate analyses of the impact on key votes and new laws of ten chief executives from Eisenhower to Bush 43, Beckmann persuasively reveals how presidents can and do exploit early-game agenda setting and endgame vote lobbying to increase substantially their odds of success in shaping legislative policy making.”
    – Mark A. Peterson, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, UCLA School of Public Affairs

    “A critical part of the new generation of presidency research, Matthew Beckmann’s Pushing the Agenda takes complex formal and informal theories seriously and then asks, ‘is this really how presidential influence works?’ His distinction between endgame, where votes matter most, and ‘earlygame,’ where cooperation over agendas matters most, constitutes an original theoretic as well as empirical contribution that academics in every setting will begin to take up in their own research. His analysis of presidential ‘influence’ within these two contexts breathes new life into a traditional concept rendered moribund by two decades of identification with measures of ‘voting success’ by demonstrating that when agendas matter and when votes matter, presidents matter and not at the margins either, but at the core. This book represents a foundation on which to construct a new generation of understanding and relevancy for presidency research.”
    – Terry Sullivan, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    “Matthew Beckmann’s Pushing the Agenda: Presidential Leadership in U.S. Lawmaking, 1953–2004 is a major contribution to our knowledge about presidential legislative power. He uses rich and innovative quantitative and qualitative analysis of the last half-century’s presidential-congressional interactions to explain presidential power on the Hill. His well-written and unique analysis focuses on presidential strategies and successes and failures of presidential influence in Congress. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the presidency and Congress.”
    – James A. Thurber, American University

    "an eminently readable, insightful, and carefully constructed book. It is recommended to scholars of the presidency and of the interaction between the executive and legislative branches. It would be a fine addition to undergraduate and graduate courses on these topics." -John D. Griffin, University of Colorado—Boulder, Congress & The Presidency

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521162913
    • length: 210 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 33 b/w illus. 1 map 22 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. A theory of positive presidential power
    3. Case study: pushing President Bush's 2001 tax cut
    4. Winning key votes, 1953–2004
    5. Signing new laws, 1953–2004
    6. The practice and potential of presidential leadership
    Appendix: archival study technical details.

  • Author

    Matthew N. Beckmann, University of California, Irvine
    Matthew N. Beckmann is Assistant Professor of Political Science at UC Irvine, where he studies Washington politics, particularly that involving the White House. His work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Political Communication. Professor Beckmann received his BA from UCLA and his PhD from the University of Michigan.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.