Conditional Presidential Priorities: Audience-Driven Agenda Setting

Annelise Russell, Rebecca Eissler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The president’s agenda-setting ability has a rich research history, with studies most often derived from the State of the Union Address. While a president communicates many of his policy priorities via the public address, the presidential agenda is more complex and variable than can be understood in one speech. Presidents have a number of tools to articulate their priorities, and how we understand presidential agenda-setting is linked to the tool and its intended audience. This research note illustrates the important variation in presidential agendas across venues by comparing the publicized agenda from the State of the Union with the policymaker-focused priorities conveyed in the annual Budget Message. Using the coding scheme of the U.S. Policy Agendas Project to assess presidential agenda setting over more than 35 years, we illustrate the audience-driven variability in presidents’ agendas and highlight how the intended audience reveals presidents’ strategic choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-549
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • agenda-setting
  • policy agenda
  • president

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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