The transmission of policy preferences from the mass electorate to the political elite is the subject of Warren Miller's illuminating new book. The elites of whom he writes are the delegates to recent nominating conventions analyzed in their subsequent roles as activists involved in presidential election campaigns. Miller's analysis delineates circumstances and conditions that affect the degree to which the issue preferences of these elite activists are more or less representative of those held by rank-and-file members of the nation's electorate.
Miller argues that, although consent and accountability are basic principles in the theory of democratic representation, the ways in which convention delegates are selected are not designed to implement these principles. Nevertheless, empirical analysis demonstrates that they often do so to varying degrees. Delegates selected in primary elections, Miller finds, are more representative of the ordinary voters than are delegates selected by any other means -- except for Democratic super delegates, who are the most representative of all.
Miller's analysis explains why elites who campaign on behalf of particular candidates are less representative of mass policy opinions than are those who campaign on behalf of their parties, and why, ironically, the elites who campaign on behalf of specific policies are even less representative of the issue positions of their parties' rank-and-file partisans.Without Consent, a sequel toParties in Transition, makes an important contribution to the literature on theories of representation by its novel analysis of linkages connecting public opinion and public policy through the presidential campaign elites.
Subjects: Political Science
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