With contemporary politics so connected to the pulse of the American people, Who Leads Whom? offers much-needed insight into how public opinion actually works in our democratic process. Analyzing the actions of modern presidents ranging from Eisenhower to Clinton, Brandice Canes-Wrone demonstrates that presidents’ involvement of the mass public, by putting pressure on Congress, shifts policy in the direction of majority opinion. More important, she also shows that presidents rarely cater to the mass citizenry unless they already agree with the public’s preferred course of action. Integrating perspectives from presidential studies, legislative politics, public opinion, and rational choice theory, this theoretical and empirical inquiry will appeal to a wide range of students and scholars of the American political process.
"By explicitly considering how policy is made, Canes-Wrone substantially advances our understanding of when presidents will go public and how these appeals influence policy. Most important, she suggests that public opinion infiuences pohcymaking, but presidents neither manipulate public opinion nor follow it regardless of where it goes. Rather, in some sense, presidents act as agenda setters by playing a role in determining which policies the public will see as salient and Congress will ultimately act on."—James N. Druckman, Public Opinion Quarterly
James N. Druckman