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The Relationship between Public Opinion and State Policy: A New Look Based on Some Forgotten Data

Robert S. Erikson
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Feb., 1976), pp. 25-36
DOI: 10.2307/2110507
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110507
Page Count: 12
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The Relationship between Public Opinion and State Policy: A New Look Based on Some Forgotten Data
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Abstract

Using large-sample opinion data from the 1930s, this article examines the relationship between state public opinion and state policy in three issue areas. State opinion is found to correlate strongly with state policy at the time of the survey and (in some cases) subsequent policy changes as well. These correlations survive standard controls for region and state socioeconomic conditions. Although other interpretations are also possible, a reasonable inference is that--at least on certain issues--public opinion can exert a strong influence on state policy decisions.

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