Navigating Public Opinion: Polls, Policy, and the Future of American Democracy

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9780195149333: Navigating Public Opinion: Polls, Policy, and the Future of American Democracy

Do politicians listen to the public? How often and when? Or are the views of the public manipulated or used strategically by political and economic elites? Navigating Public Opinion brings together leading scholars of American politics to assess and debate these questions. It describes how the relationship between opinion and policy has changed over time; how key political actors use public opinion to formulate domestic and foreign policy; and how new measurement techniques might improve our understanding of public opinion in contemporary polling and survey research.
The distinguished contributors shed new light on several long-standing controversies over policy responsiveness to public opinion. Featuring a new analysis by Robert Erikson, Michael MacKuen, and James Stimson that builds from their pathbreaking work on how public mood moves policy in a macro-model of policymaking, the volume also includes several critiques of this model by Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, another critique by G. William Domhoff, and a rejoinder by Erikson and his coauthors. Other highlights include discussions of how political elites, including state-level policymakers, presidents, and makers of foreign policy, use (or shape) public opinion; and analyses of new methods for measuring public opinion such as survey-based experiments, probabilistic polling methods, non-survey-based measures of public opinion, and the potential and limitations of Internet polls and surveys. Introductory and concluding essays provide useful background context and offer an authoritative summary of what is known about how public opinion influences public policy.
A must-have for all students of American politics, public opinion, and polling, this state-of-the-art collection addresses issues that lie at the heart of democratic governance today.

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About the Author:

Benjamin I. Page, Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making in the Department of Political Science, all at Northwestern University.

Review:

... a must-read for any student of public opinion. Political Studies Review Gilen's elegant synopsis of question wording and context experiments stands out. Students of American public opinion should survey this collection carefully. Political Studies Review

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