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President Bush's attempt to reform Social Security provides an opportunity to test the ability of presidents to shift public opinion on policy proposals. We argue that although the bully pulpit perspective offers a reasonable explanation of presidential efforts of public persuasion, modern presidents are more likely to engage in a selective attempt to mobilize portions of the public. We employ survey data of American adults to examine whether President Bush's influenced the public or portions of the public over the course of his campaign to reform Social Security. Our analyses suggest that although overall public support for reform declined, President Bush's efforts did successfully increase support for the Social Security reform proposal among his core constituents. We conclude that our findings support the notion that modern presidents employ a narrow bully pulpit that is directed at their electoral base.

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