Constitutionally, the three branches of the federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial) have equal power. This system of "checks and balances" is designed so that no single office becomes too powerful.
Still, in practice, the three branches rarely hold exactly the same amount of power. Over time, the executive branch has become more powerful, as presidents gain more authority in times of crisis, executive orders are becoming more common, and media provides a centralized platform from which the president can sway public opinion.
The most common year-to-year (or election-to-election) power shifts occur in the election of Congress. When the president's political party is also the Congressional majority, the executive branch gains more power, as it is easier to pass the legislation desired by the executive branch. Alternatively, when the president faces an opposing Congress, the executive branch must work much harder to pass its desired policies. Essentially, the legislative...
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 893 words.)