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The transmission of policy preferences from the mass electorate to the political elite is the subject of Warren Miller's illuminating new book. The elites of whom he writes are the delegates to recent nominating conventions analyzed in their subsequent roles as activists involved in presidential election campaigns. Miller's analysis delineates circumstances and conditions that affect the degree to which the issue preferences of these elite activists are more or less representative of those held by rank-and-file members of the nation's electorate.
Miller argues that, although consent and accountability are basic principles in the theory of democratic representation, the ways in which convention delegates are selected are not designed to implement these principles. Nevertheless, empirical analysis demonstrates that they often do so to varying degrees. Delegates selected in primary elections, Miller finds, are more representative of the ordinary voters than are delegates selected by any other means—except for Democratic super delegates, who are the most representative of all.
Miller's analysis explains why elites who campaign on behalf of particular candidates are less representative of mass policy opinions than are those who campaign on behalf of their parties, and why, ironically, the elites who campaign on behalf of specific policies are even less representative of the issue positions of their parties' rank-and-file partisans.
Without Consent, a sequel to Parties in Transition, makes an important contribution to the literature on theories of representation by its novel analysis of linkages connecting public opinion and public policy through the presidential campaign elites.
Warren E. Miller is professor of political science at Arizona State University and principal investigator of the National Election Studies at the Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan.
"Miller seeks to test the general assumption that party as a guide to voting behavior has weakened; and that elections are normally determined by voters' assessment of the incumbent and policy preference."—American Politics Review
"It serves as an important contribution to the continually expanding literature on presidential-candidate selection ad end electoral behavior."—The Annals of the American Academy
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Nominating conventions, Presidential politics, Presidential primaries, Presidential elections
Miller, Warren E., "Without Consent: Mass-Elite Linkages in Presidential Politics" (1988). American Politics. 34.