The correspondence between public preferences and public policy is a critical rationale for representative democratic government. This view has been put forward in the theoretical literature on democracy and representation (e.g., Dahl 1971; Pitkin 1967; Birch 1971) and in “functional” theories of democratic politics (Easton 1965; Deutsch 1963), both of which emphasize the importance of popular control of policymaking institutions. Political science research also shows a good amount of correspondence between opinion and policy, though to varying degrees, across a range of policy domains and political institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is of obvious significance.
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