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Research Paper On Public Opinion

This article considers the impact of public opinion on public policy, asking: (1) how much impact it has; (2) how much the impact increases as the salience of issues increases; (3) to what extent the impact of public opinion may be negated by interest groups, social movement organizations, political parties, and elites; (4) whether responsiveness of governments to public opinion has changed over time; and (5) the extent to which our conclusions can be generalized. The source of data is publications published in major journals and included in major literature reviews, systematically coded to record the impact of public opinion on policy. The major findings include: the impact of public opinion is substantial; salience enhances the impact of public opinion; the impact of opinion remains strong even when the activities of political organizations and elites are taken into account; responsiveness appears not to have changed significantly over time; and the extent to which the conclusions can be generalized is limited. Gaps in our knowledge made apparent by the review are addressed in proposals for an agenda for future research.

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