Close examination of Carter’s presidency lays bare the fragility of the Democratic coalition during this period: North versus South, New Deal Democrats versus “new” Democrats, evangelical Christians versus the mainstream religious, pragmatic politicians versus technocrats. Likewise, many of the issues raised by Carter—the congressional pork barrel chief among them—would become standards for subsequent presidents (as would energy, Middle East peace, tax reform, arms limitation, and a host of others). Reflecting on Carter’s place in American political history, former Special Assistant to Carter Les Francis summed up Carter’s place in history:
This book is about presidential influence in Congress. Presidential influence in Congress—whether presidents, through their official activities, are able to persuade members of Congress to vote with the president—is one of the enduring intellectual puzzles of the scholarly study of American politics. Inside the Washington community, presidential influence is a matter of much concern, discussion, speculation, intuition, handwringing, and folklore.