Analyses and Commentary

Biden giving orders.

Biden's Use of Discretion

Executive Action: President Biden vs His Predecessors

Biden has set records for issuing orders, but the differences with other recent presidents are not dramatic. This conclusion is based on content-adjusted counts of documents in the APP archives supplemented with some external data. The basic story with presidential orders is summarized in a nearby graph (figure 1) and discussed in more detail below.

Minority Leaders McConnell and McCarthy

The 2022 Midterm Elections: What the Historical Data Suggest.

In the 22 midterm elections from 1934 -2018, the President's party has averaged a loss of 28 House seats and four Senate seats. The president’s party gained seats in the House only three times, but gained seats in the Senate on six occasions. The president’s party has gained seats in both houses only twice.

Biden signing an order

Biden in Action: the First 100 Days

Now that we have reached the end of  Biden first 100 days, it’s time to ask “what’s the point of the 100 day watch?” What meaningful conclusions can we draw about a Presidency after 100 days?

Trump At Hosptial Ship

Presidents and Contagious Disease

President Trump's lengthy daily news conferences on the novel coronavirus are an unprecedented leadership strategy for the nation facing a crisis.  In no prior national crisis of any sort, have Presidents placed themselves so visibly at the center of all crisis decision-making.  This APP analysis provides historical context for current policy by examining the practice of prior presidents in dealing with contagious disease.

We look at two bodies of evidence:

George Washington

President's Day? Washington's Birthday? Historical Notes

Four presidents have birthdays in February: George Washington ( February 22), William Henry Harrison (February 9), Abraham Lincoln (February 12), and Ronald Reagan (Februar

President Reagan Pardon's Turkey

Evolution of the Thanksgiving Proclamation

The text of Presidential thanksgiving proclamations reveals a the dramatic evolution of the idea and meaning of Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving proclamations began as a call to participate in a day of solemn reflection and expression of thanks to a Supreme Being.  Over time, however, the Thanksgiving Proclamation has evolved to evoke a distinctively American history and celebration of certain core values. (Jump to the list of proclamations)

GWBush salutes casket of GHW Bush, National Cathedral

Presidential Orders upon the Death of a President

The table below includes APP documents issued by US President upon the death of a predecessor.  Practices have evolved substantially.

The earliest observances (see J. Q. Adam's 1826 Order noting the death of Thomas Jefferson) called primarily for members of the military to mark the event.  These practices included wearing mourning crape on their left arms for six months; troops parading and firing cannon; and placing the flag at half-staff for one day.

President Elect Trump and Speaker Pelosi

Presidents and Midterm Elections: What Historical Data Suggest about 2018

On average, from 1934 -2014, at midterm elections, the President's party has lost 27 House seats and 4 Senate seats. 

Sarah Sanders

How Different are Sarah Sanders's Press Briefings?

How different are Trump Administration press Secretary Sarah Sanders's press briefings?  Recently, The Washington Post presented both an analysis and an editorial critical of Sanders' briefings.  The

Trump at Fort Drum Ceremony

The Greatest Number of Constitutional Objections in a Signing Statement?

Many commentators took special note of President Trump's Signing Statement of August 13, 2018 accompanying the Defense appropriations authorization Act (see USA Today, the New York Times, and

Biden speaking at US Coast Guard Graduation

Presidential Commencement Addresses

Presidential Commencement Addresses (Updated 5/20/2021)

President Biden has given one commencement address thus far in 2021--at the Coast Guard Academy (May 19). It was the 11th time a president has spoken at the Coast Guard Academy. 

 donald trump and mike pence rnc july 2016

Trump in Action: Early Analyses

1. How does President Trump's pace of executive orders compare to his predecessors? (see graph below)

His written orders include documents titled "Executive Order," Memorandum, and Proclamation. His pace is similar to that of President Obama. Click here to see a list of the Obama and Trump orders (with links to the text) side-by-side by day.

president obama dancing

Presidents to "Girls Nation"

Presidents starting at least with Harry Truman, have met with "Girls Nation" delegates at the White House. Often the President's remarks turned to the future careers of the young women in the group. John Kennedy surmised that, "it may not be possible for you to be President." But, he added, "I am sure we are talking to a future First Lady."

Obama in Oval Office

Has Obama acted outside the law?

This Op-ed piece originally appeared on