Polls and Politics

The Dilemmas of Democracy

Edited by Michael A. Genovese & Matthew J. Streb

Subjects: Public Opinion, Political Science, Democracy
Paperback : 9780791460849, 204 pages, March 2004
Hardcover : 9780791460832, 204 pages, March 2004

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures


1. Polling and the Dilemmas of Democracy
Matthew J. Streb and Michael A. Genovese

2. Presidents, Polls, and the Paradox of Democratic Governance
Michael A. Genovese

3. Presidential Leadership and the Threat to Popular Sovereignty
Lawrence R. Jacobs and Melinda S. Jackson

4. Continuing to Campaign: Public Opinion and the White House
Diane J. Heith

5. Do Polls Give the Public a Voice in a Democracy?
Michael W. Traugott

6. When Push Comes to Shove: Push Polling and the Manipulation of Public Opinion
Matthew J. Streb and Susan H. Pinkus

7. Are Exit Polls Bad for Democracy?
Gerald C. Wright

8. Deliberative Polling, Public Opinion, and Democratic Theory
James S. Fishkin

9. Polling in a Robust Democracy
Michael A. Genovese and Matthew J. Streb


List of Contributors


A provocative examination of the use and abuse of public opinion polls.


This hard-hitting and engaging examination of polls and American politics asks an essential question: do polls contribute to the vitality of our democracy or are they undermining the health of our political system? Leading scholars address several key issues such as how various types of polls affect democracy, the meaning attributed to polling data by citizens and the media, the use of polls by presidents, and how political elites respond—or do not respond—to public polls. The contributors assert that while polls tread a fine line between informing and manipulating the public, they remain valuable so long as a robust democracy obliges its political leaders to respond to the expressed will of the people.

Michael A. Genovese is Loyola Chair of Leadership Studies and Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. He is the author of many books, including The Power of the American Presidency: 1789–2000 and The Presidential Dilemma: Leadership in the American System. Matthew J. Streb is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University and the author of The New Electoral Politics of Race.