Who Governs?: Presidents, Public Opinion, And Manipulation

Paperback | March 18, 2015

byJames N. Druckman, Lawrence R. Jacobs

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America’s model of representational government rests on the premise that elected officials respond to the opinions of citizens. This is a myth, however, not a reality, according to James N. Druckman and Lawrence R. Jacobs. In Who Governs?, Druckman and Jacobs combine existing research with novel data from US presidential archives to show that presidents make policy by largely ignoring the views of most citizens in favor of affluent and well-connected political insiders. Presidents treat the public as pliable, priming it to focus on personality traits and often ignoring it on policies that fail to become salient.

Melding big debates about democratic theory with existing research on American politics and innovative use of the archives of three modern presidents—Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan—Druckman and Jacobs deploy lively and insightful analysis to show that the conventional model of representative democracy bears little resemblance to the actual practice of American politics. The authors conclude by arguing that polyarchy and the promotion of accelerated citizen mobilization and elite competition can improve democratic responsiveness. An incisive study of American politics and the flaws of representative government, this book will be warmly welcomed by readers interested in US politics, public opinion, democratic theory, and the fecklessness of American leadership and decision-making.

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America’s model of representational government rests on the premise that elected officials respond to the opinions of citizens. This is a myth, however, not a reality, according to James N. Druckman and Lawrence R. Jacobs. In Who Governs?, Druckman and Jacobs combine existing research with novel data from US presidential archives to sh...

James N. Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and an honorary professor of political science at Aarhus University in Denmark. Lawrence R. Jacobs is the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the Humphrey School...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:March 18, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022623441X

ISBN - 13:9780226234410

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I. Political Representation and Presidential Manipulation

Chapter 1. Presidential Crafted Talk and Democratic Theory
Chapter 2. The Political Strategy of Tracking the Public

Part II. Presidential Strategies to Shape Public Opinion

Chapter 3. How White House Strategy Drives the Collection and Use of Its Polling
Chapter 4. Segmented Representation
Chapter 5. Elite Strategies to Prime Issues and Image

Part III. America’s Democratic Dilemmas

Chapter 6. The Effects and Limits of Presidential Efforts to Move Public Opinion
Chapter 7. Rethinking Representation

Acknowledgments
Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Druckman and Jacobs ask a question that speaks to the fundamental nature of American democracy: How responsive is the government to public opinion? . . . The authors convincingly show that rather than responding to the wishes of ordinary Americans, presidents routinely seek to distract large swaths of voters from important issues, and perhaps even more disturbingly, disingenuously convince them that what is good for the most affluent and well-connected Americans is also good for them.  This persuasive book presents a sobering view of a broken political system that serves the interests of only the narrowest slice of Americans. . . . Highly recommended.”