Public opinion, partisanship, and public policy
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What is the relationship between public opinion and public policy? This question is at the heart of representative democracy. This dissertation attempts to enhance our understanding of the role that partisanship plays in the opinion-policy process. We proceed in four steps. First, section 1 situates the analyses that follow in the current literature. Section 2 uses data on spending preferences to estimate general spending preferences of individuals and congressional candidates in a shared dimension. The approach employed allows for direct comparison between those two groups, and between the groups and where they perceive policy to be. Section 3 investigates whether partisans respond to policy changes similarly. Findings indicate that partisans react differently to policy change in issue areas with relatively large disagreement. Finally, Section 4 flips the equation and considers policy as the dependent variable. Are partisans more likely to get their preferred policies when they control the White House? The answer, it seems, is yes. Policy responds primarily to partisans of the same party as the president.