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Lawrence Jacobs

Who Governs?

Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation

University of Chicago Press 2015

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network May 18, 2015 Heath Brown

Lawrence Jacobs is the author (with James Druckman) of Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Jacobs is the...

Lawrence Jacobs is the author (with James Druckman) of Who Governs? Presidents, Public Opinion, and Manipulation (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Jacobs is the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

Just how responsive is the president to the public? In theory, we all hope very, but increasingly we worry that presidents have grown more distant from the wishes of the public. In Who Governs?, we get an empirical answer to that question that is at once novel and also deeply disturbing. Jacobs and Druckman explore how presidents, since Kennedy, have used public opinion polling to craft public messages and shape public priorities. Polling has grown significantly since the 1960s, both in its utilization, and also its sophistication, and presidents, especially Ronald Reagan, have given increasing attention to their results. But rather than using polls to closely adhere to the average voter, many presidents have catered to narrow segments of the populace, rending polling another tool used to undermine democratic governance.