An interesting study idea I had. Would not be difficult to do. Essentially, the hypothesis is that presidents are more controversial in their second term because they don’t have to worry about re-election. One additional prediction could be that this association increased after FDR’s presidency because it was made law that presidents couldn’t take more than two terms. A reason this might not be as strong is that George Washington’s precedent was strong enough to dissuade anyone else from taking more than two terms anyways.
Here’s how this could be really easily done:
* Collect a list of all major presidential decisions for all presidents that served two full terms
* Find Gallup and Reuters/Ipsos polling for any presidential decisions possible
* Where polling is unavailable, use online archives of old news articles and magazine articles available through websites like New York Times and Unz Review.
* Code controversy in some way that makes sense for all presidential decisions possible
* Test if the mean difference between presidential decisions in the first terms and second terms are statistically significant and in what direction
* As I can said, we can also test if this relationship increased or changed after FDR’s presidency
* Additionally, it would be interesting to see which presidents are the most controversial, most daring, etc. as well as which decisions have been the most controversial or disliked in history.
I’d be willing to work with someone on this at some point. This would be a pretty cool study for any political science or sociology journal, particularly if the results aren’t null. If they are null, then my hypothesis would be that presidents wish to keep a historical reputation and so will always try and appease people.