From Wife to Presidential Partner: the Policy Agenda of the First Lady of the United States
In this article, Kuipers and Timmermans analyze the first lady's relationship with policy problems in the period 1945-2013.
- Georgina Kuipers & Arco Timmermans
- 16 November 2021
- From Wife to Presidential Partner: the Policy Agenda of the First Lady of the United States
First ladies are prominent public persons, arguably even among the most influential non-elected representatives of the American public. This article presents an analysis of the first lady's relationship with policy problems in the period 1945-2013 on the basis of a content analysis of New York Times articles, applying the topic classification system developed within the Comparative Agendas Project. It finds that first ladies are increasingly associated with policy over time; that they are associated primarily with socalled compassion issues; that they have a rather diversified agenda; that her agenda has no real relation to the president's; and that there are no clear partisan divisions. Over time, the first lady has become a stronger policy advocate and political partner to the president.