Understanding and Evaluating PresidentsUnderstanding and evaluating presidents poses problems for political scientists because only one president serves at time and since each president faces very different challenges. Political scientists call this the one-n problem. Because the circumstances of a presidency have a tremendous impact on the success and failure of that presidency, determining whether a president was good or bad is difficult, particularly when we start comparing presidents. Only Franklin Roosevelt was president at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, for example, and only Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War. How can one judge, then, how Lincoln would have handled Pearl Harbor or FDR the Civil War?Factors Contributing to Success and Failure Many factors affect how successful a president will be:•Strong leadership:The ability to rally people behind him •Congress:The ability to control or persuade members of Congress •Popularity:
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