Principles and Practices of American Politics Reading Summaries

Principles and Practices of American Politics Reading Summaries

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Principles and Practices of American Politics Reading Summaries 10.2 Dynamic Representation by James Stimson, Michael MacKuen and Robert Erikson This important and creative study measures the correlation between public preferences and government behavior Authors use a statistical technique to build an aggregate measure of public opinion from dozens of polls. The technique allows them to measure change in the liberalism of views expressed in the polls over several decades. Then, using similarly aggregated measures of the behavior of Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court, they evaluate the relationship between the liberalism of public opinion and the behavior of the institutions. Government as a whole proves responsive to public opinion than the Supreme Court. 10.3 America’s Ignorant Voters by Michael Shudson Michael Shudson observes that American voters are not becoming less knowledgeable about government, contrary to the conventional wisdom, and, even without all the facts about politics, are able to make reasonable judgments about candidates Shudson asks whether the informed citizen- meaning one who knows basic facts about government and politics- is truly the foundation of effective democracy. Reviewing the evidence, Shudson argues, contrary to conventional wisdom, that the problem is not growing worse. Moreover, voters may not recall many facts but still be able to vote in a way that reflects reasonable evaluations of candidates and parties. 10.4 Cuture War? The Myth of a Polarized America by Morris Fiorina Morris Fiorina challenges the popular notion that Americans are becoming deeply divided on culture issues Many observers of politics have asserted that Americans are increasingly polarized, particularly over cultural or social issues. That polarization, it is claimed, has intensified partisanship in the electorate and in Washington. Fiorina challenges the assumption that Americans have become more deeply divided on cultural issues. He argues, rather, that political elites, particularly candidates for office, have become more polarized along party and ideological lines, thus changing the choices available to the voters. That in turn, has produced a sorting of the electorate and the deceptive appearance of polarization in the mass public.
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