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Dynamic Democracy: Public Opinion, Elections, and Policymaking in the American States
by Devin Caughey and Christopher Warshaw
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-226-82220-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-82221-1 | Paper: 978-0-226-82222-8
Library of Congress Classification JK1764.C395 2022
Dewey Decimal Classification 323.0420973

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
A new perspective on policy responsiveness in American government.
 
Scholars of American politics have long been skeptical of ordinary citizens’ capacity to influence, let alone control, their governments. Drawing on over eight decades of state-level evidence on public opinion, elections, and policymaking, Devin Caughey and Christopher Warshaw pose a powerful challenge to this pessimistic view. Their research reveals that although American democracy cannot be taken for granted, state policymaking is far more responsive to citizens’ demands than skeptics claim.
 
Although governments respond sluggishly in the short term, over the long term, electoral incentives induce state parties and politicians—and ultimately policymaking—to adapt to voters’ preferences. The authors take an empirical and theoretical approach that allows them to assess democracy as a dynamic process. Their evidence across states and over time gives them new leverage to assess relevant outcomes and trends, including the evolution of mass partisanship, mass ideology, and the relationship between partisanship and ideology since the mid-twentieth century; the nationalization of state-level politics; the mechanisms through which voters hold incumbents accountable; the performance of moderate candidates relative to extreme candidates; and the quality of state-level democracy today relative to state-level democracy in other periods.
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