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Without Consent

Without Consent: Mass-Elite Linkages in Presidential Politics

Warren E. Miller
Series: Blazer Lectures
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Without Consent
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5772-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael A. Baer

    Intellectual and artistic pursuits have long benefited from the generosity and support of members of society who have recognized the importance of curiosity, exploration, and the search for new ideas and new knowledge. The University of Kentucky has been fortunate to have shared in the generosity offered by a large number of the Commonwealth’s citizens. The Blazer Lecture Series, supported since 1949 by the Paul G. and Georgia M. Blazer Fund, is an example of this contribution to the intellectual life of the faculty and students at the university and to the surrounding community. In the almost four decades since...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. 1 Introduction: The Study of Presidential Politics in America
    (pp. 1-14)

    As the end of the twentieth century approaches, the more cynical of the commentators describing the political American scene are prone to repeat the caricature of the American presidential selection process as the “selling of a president.” With politics entering the era of high technology in mass communications, the serious process of democratic self-government is often portrayed as one involving only the imagemakers, two or more malleable candidates for an elective office, and the gullible electorate. In the early days of each election-year cycle, “name recognition” and trial heat comparisons of candidate popularity are the name of the game, and...

  7. 2 Partisan Polarization and Factionalism, 1980 and 1984
    (pp. 15-30)

    First interpretations of the 1984 Reagan landslide concluded that the election had produced a mandate for continuation of the national shift to the right on matters of ideology and public policy. Second and third thoughts took into account the absence of persuasive supporting data concerning any such ideological intent of the mass electorate. First tentatively and then with greater certitude, conventional wisdom shifted.

    On the Democratic side the initial reaction had been that a continued repudiation of the “New Deal”/“New Frontier”/ “Great Society” programs meant (in 1985) that the contest for the presidency in 1988 must be pursued with centrist...

  8. 3 Mass-Elite Similarities
    (pp. 31-46)

    By the midpoint of the Reagan presidency, the polarization of Democrats and Republicans was sharply evident on all six of the general multiple-item indicators of policy preferences and issue positions derived from our 1984 data collection. Differences were, as in 1980, much sharper among elite activists than among rank-and-file party supporters. And as Tables 9 and 10 indicate, there were substantial variations in the magnitude of interparty differences among the six content domains that we shall examine throughout this discussion.

    Whether the pattern of differences across the six indicators contains any surprises largely depends on one’s expectations. For instance, in...

  9. 4 Linkage Mechanisms: Party
    (pp. 47-75)

    The importance of party in democratic government is matched only by the multitude of forms in which party appears. The one-time classic formulation of party as an entity embodied in the mind of the elector, in the campaign organization, or in the organizing structure of government has been outmoded as it becomes more and more apparent that the manifestations of party are almost infinitely varied both in form and in substance. This became more obvious as we tried to locate empirical evidence for the theoretical origins and consequences of the various concerns about party that were involved in this study...

  10. 5 Linkage Mechanisms: Ideological Factions and Issue Representation
    (pp. 76-88)

    Setting the discussion of the role of party in linking mass and elite policy preferences prior to a discussion of the consequences of elite representation of policy commitments provides another bit of irony from the analysis. We began our inquiry in 1972 wanting to learn more about what resulted from the various recent reforms of the presidential selection process. As our work evolved, we found evidence that reform priorities pertaining to the importance of questions of public policy produced only a temporary reduction of the central importance of party in Democratic presidential politics. This was part of a larger conclusion...

  11. 6 Linkage Mechanisms: Political Leadership
    (pp. 89-105)

    If the political parties may be designated as the carriers of mass ideology, presidential candidates have long personified the policy preferences and ideological postures of the parties. Of course, the politics of the Reagan era can aptly be described in the impersonal terms of the ideological conflicts of liberals and conservatives or the contribution to the intellectual debates over basic social policies made by ex-liberals turned neo-conservative. Whatever the terms, there is little question that the quality of elite participation in presidential politics was fundamentally altered by the successful protests of the 1960s and 1970s. That turbulent period changed American...

  12. 7 Linkage Mechanisms: Elite Orientations
    (pp. 106-130)

    Thus far in the discussion we have been restrained in our use of the language of political representation to describe the results of our study of mass-elite linkage—emphasizing instead the more strictly descriptive themes of similarities or dissimilarities between masses and elites. We have done so despite the fact that the nominating process is clearly a political institution designed to provide representation of a broad array of public interests in the process of presidential selection. We have been restrained because the selection of delegates is seldom made according to procedures and within structures normally associated with processes that are...

  13. 8 Individuals, Institutions, and Representation
    (pp. 131-139)

    Very few of the thousands of people, from ordinary citizens to extraordinary leaders, whose attitudes and actions have been reported in this book engage in politics as anything more than a part-time, spare-time avocation. Except for the handful of officeholders who are dependent on political office—public or party—for their livelihood, political participation is a completely voluntary activity. As such, it attracts people with a thousand and one different motives for becoming engaged. To judge from motives for participation reported in studies of political activists, a concern with governmental representation of popular issue preferences is not high on the...

  14. Appendix A. Data Sources
    (pp. 140-143)
  15. Appendix B. Measures of Policy Preferences
    (pp. 144-160)
  16. Appendix C. Index Construction: Measures of Political Variables among Elites
    (pp. 161-170)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 171-176)
  18. Index
    (pp. 177-184)