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Preference Gaps and Inequality in Representation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2009

Martin Gilens
Princeton University


In a recent article in PS, Soroka and Wlezien (2008) argue that the policy preferences of low- and high-income Americans rarely differ, and therefore that “regardless of whose preferences policymakers follow … policy will end up in essentially the same place” (325). In this article, I analyze a much larger and more diverse set of policies than those examined by Soroka and Wlezien and show that income-based preference gaps are much larger and more widespread than their data suggest. In terms of federal government policy, the affluent are far better represented than the poor; the findings in this paper indicate that this representational inequality has substantial repercussions across a wide range of policy issues.

Copyright © The American Political Science Association 2009

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