Talk this Way: the Ubiquitous Presidency and Expectations of Presidential Communication

Document Type


Publication Date



american presidency, presidential communication, presidential expectations, ubiquitous presidency

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The American presidency is evolving, and with it public expectations of how often and where the president should communicate. The rhetorical presidency, characterized by inclusive public appeals broadcast in a few media venues, has transitioned to a ubiquitous presidency wherein accessible, personal, and pluralistic communications are the norm. Despite these changes in communication style at the presidential level, scholars have yet to document formally how individuals’ expectations might be changing accordingly. Specifically, what do individuals expect of the frequency of and venues for presidential communication? We investigate established and emergent expectations of presidential communication via a field survey completed in the lead up to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. The findings indicate that while expectations of presidential communication are shifting with executive behavior, beliefs remain moored to foundational notions of the informational, transparent, and dignified presidency. These shifts have democratic repercussions for the institutional presidency and for citizens.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

American Behavioral Scientist, v. 61, issue 3, p. 298-314.