The Politics of Credit in Presidential Signing Statements Article

Evans, KA, Marshall, BW. (2016). The Politics of Credit in Presidential Signing Statements . CONGRESS & THE PRESIDENCY-A JOURNAL OF CAPITAL STUDIES, 43(2), 179-205. 10.1080/07343469.2016.1169335

cited authors

  • Evans, KA; Marshall, BW



  • The separation of powers often makes it difficult to understand who is responsible for legislative outcomes. Both members of Congress and presidents seek to shape perceptions of policy responsibility to their advantage. Yet, the relative size of the president's rhetorical stage gives him disproportionate influence in molding these discussions at critical moments. Given these circumstances, how, when, and why, do presidents claim credit for themselves and attribute credit to members of Congress for legislation? Using an original dataset based upon a content analysis of all presidential signing statements from 1985–2008, we find that presidential strategies to claim and attribute credit for laws are greatly impacted by both political context (approval, divided government, midterm elections, and party power) and bill-specific attributes (appropriations, salience, and veto threats). The theory and results highlight the importance of taking multiple institutions into account when thinking about credit.

publication date

  • May 3, 2016

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 179

end page

  • 205


  • 43


  • 2