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Publication Date


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Presidential Studies Quarterly


Political Science


Veto threats may offer presidents bargaining leverage, but such leverage will be diminished if they and those with whom they transact business view a veto as hurting the president’s approval rating and his party’s prospects in the next election. How concerned must presidents be about the audience costs associated with a veto? Political science research suggests that they should be in that the public does not like vetoes and punishes presidents when they exercise this authority. In this article we test this argument with survey responses during times after presidents have issued a veto threat but before an actual veto. While on average, respondents register opposition to a veto, this preference varies greatly with the specific policy in question and with respondents’ party identification and presidential approval. The results suggest that opposition to a veto comes disproportionately, may be limited to politically distant respondents, and thus may not be as costly as the net negative numbers suggest.


Accepted for the March 2019 issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly © Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. The definitive version is available at