How Much Does the President Really Matter?

In this very unusual political year, the electorate seems as polarized as it’s been since the Civil War.  Many people feel dire things will happen if their candidate is not elected president.

Which brings up the question, how much difference does a president make anyway?  Remember our Founding Fathers distrusted government at least as much as we do.  That’s why they put so many checks and balances into our system, constraining whoever occupies the Oval Office.

As their contribution to this election year, Freaknomics Radio has a podcast and transcript on their website exploring just this subject.  It’s actually a rebroadcast from 2010 (and was repeated on June 22; I just got to it today.)

From the Introduction:  The U.S. president is often called the “leader of free world.” But if you ask an economist or a Constitutional scholar how much the occupant of the Oval Office matters, they won’t say much. We look at what the data have to say about measuring leadership, and its impact on the economy and the country.

So if you’re really worried about the election’s outcome, this may take some of the anxiety out of your day.  It’s at


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