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Tides of Consent
How Public Opinion Shapes American Politics

2nd Edition

$28.99 (P)

  • Date Published: August 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107518919

$ 28.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Politics is a trial in which those in government – and those who aspire to serve – make proposals, debate alternatives, and pass laws. Then the jury of public opinion decides. It likes the proposals or actions or it does not. It trusts the actors or it doesn't. It moves, always at the margin, and then those who benefit from the movement are declared winners. This book is about that public opinion response. Its most basic premise is that although public opinion rarely matters in a democracy, public opinion change is the exception. Public opinion rarely matters because the public rarely cares enough to act on its concerns or preferences. Change happens only when the threshold of normal public inattention is crossed. When public opinion changes, governments rise or fall, elections are won or lost, and old realities give way to new demands.

    • Includes a new preface to the second edition
    • All data series are brought up to date
    • Serves as a supplement to introductory American government courses
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of previous edition:
    "Stimson deftly interprets mathematical analysis of large quantities of public answers to survey questions. Highly recommended."

    Review of previous edition:
    "This is excellent work by a scholar who is, by all measures, top in his field. Stimson writes about the single most important element in American politics: public opinion. He traces movement in public opinion over time and shows that it moves politics."
    Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Ohio State University

    Review of previous edition:
    "The book is well written and a rare example of successful integration of state-of-the-art research and passing on knowledge to a wider audience … the book could be used as a benchmark for comparative research exploring the evolution in public opinion and the effects of campaigns and debates in other institutional settings … an excellent book, which deserves to be widely read."
    Political Studies Review

    Review of previous edition:
    "Tides of Consent is an ambitious attempt to integrate the findings of a half-century of public opinion research in an effort to draw convincing conclusions about the political implications and electoral consequences of public opinion. Too often public opinion is presented as filler, a spot on the evening news when nothing else is available. Rarely do we look at public opinion in its contemporary context, and almost never do we attempt to understand its significance over the long haul. In this book, Stimson offers us new insights into public preferences and understanding of the links between public preferences and public policy that are often lost in coverage of the daily news or the political campaign."
    John McIver, University of Texas, Austin

    Review of previous edition:
    "James Stimson has written a very important - and very readable - book. In a world of erratic sound bites, Stimson’s analysis provides the underlying coherence of a symphony. Anyone who wishes to better understand the ebb and flow of American politics should read Tides of Consent."
    Richard J. Tofel

    Review of previous edition:
    "Scholars and their students will find much to appreciate as well in this clearly written and engaging book, filled with interesting time series data and colorful examples about politicians and campaigns we all remember … Stimson believes that the most important thing in American politics is public opinion but says we have only "scratched the surface" in understanding opinion movement His work has done much more than scratch the surface, and in Tides of Consent, he accomplishes his goal of making his research accessible to a broader audience than he has reached before."
    Fay Lomax Cook, Political Science Quarterly

    Review of previous edition:
    "Tides of Consent is an excellent work. This book could be used as a textbook in an undergraduate course on public opinion, and it also makes a very good starting point for a graduate seminar on the same topic. Finally, it is simply interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable reading material that I would recommend to any political scientist."
    Perspectives on Politics

    Review of previous edition:
    "James A. Stimson has written another important book on American public opinion, this time geared to show a general audience how one fundamental aspect of "democracy" works: that public opinion, contrary to its critics, looks sensible and ‘citizens succeed in communicating their preferences to government."
    Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University, New York

    "This immensely readable book is jam-packed with ideas and insights into the deep rhythms of public opinion and how they condition the actions and reactions of politicians and political commentators. I know of no other book on public opinion and elections that rivals its verve, deep scholarship, and on-the-money shrewdness."
    Paul Sniderman, Stanford University, California

    "Tides of Consent is a rarity in the literature on public opinion - a book that is both accessible and profound. Its central thesis - that aggregate opinion moves in understandable ways and that it is this movement that influences politics - is compelling. A must-read for academics, journalists, pollsters, and anyone else interested in the role of the public voice in American democracy."
    Michael X. Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania

    "Stimson is the premier scholar on the connection between public opinion and public policy on the national level in the US … This second edition is helpful because it updates numerous data series well past 2010. The conclusions are much the same, but the evidence is more robust. [His] writing style is approachable, entertaining, and at times downright humorous. This is a welcome update of a political science classic … Essential."
    E. T. Jones, Choice

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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: August 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107518919
    • length: 196 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.3kg
    • contains: 44 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Opinion flows
    2. What the public wants of government
    3. Left and right movements in preference
    4. The great horse race
    5. Between the campaigns
    6. On politics at the margin.

  • Author

    James A. Stimson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    James A. Stimson is the Raymond Dawson Distinguished Bicentennial Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A former president of the Midwest Political Science Association and Treasurer of the American Political Science Association, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He has authored and co-authored numerous books including Yeas and Nays: Normal Decision-Making in the US House of Representatives, Issue Evolution: Race and the Reconstruction of American Politics, Public Opinion in America, Ideology in America, and The Macro Polity. Professor Stimson has served as Editor of Political Analysis and has served on the editorial board of journals such as the American Journal of Political Science and The Journal of Politics. He has authored many articles published in major journals of political science and is the recipient of various awards for his distinguished scholarship.

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