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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Public opinion warrants increasing attention in research on American political development. It is central to the study of democratic politics, and it is involved with political processes that are sensitive to time and historical context. It can be studied using the methods of social and political historians and increasingly through data from opinion polls. Studies of democracy in action are arguably the most important, focusing on the causal relationship between public opinion and government policymaking, including the institutional processes and mechanisms that link the two. Given that public opinion can have important effects on what leaders, institutions, and governments do, it has become increasingly important to study the influences on both public opinion overall and different segments of it that might be most politically consequential. These influences include especially mass communication processes and also “policy feedback” effects on the public’s behavior broadly.

Keywords: public opinion, social history, political history, democracy, representation, survey research, leadership, mass communication, policymaking

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