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Follow the Leader?: How Voters Respond to Politicians' Policies and Performance (Chicago Studies in American Politics) Paperback – October 15, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

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“With Follow the Leader? Gabriel S. Lenz addresses the central question of how voters make use of the information around them to form evaluations of elected officials. Examining the impact of processes like priming and position changing, Lenz argues that there are also substantial effects working in the opposite direction—and that who voters support affects their views on the issues. There is much to ponder here for scholars interested in voter behavior and representation.”
(Thomas M. Carsey, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Lucid and engaging, Follow the Leader? revisits the longstanding debate about whether the electorate chooses candidates based on their policy stances. Adducing evidence from a broad array of countries, eras, and issue domains, Gabriel S. Lenz offers a smart and nuanced critique of the ‘issue voting’ literature, arguing that voters often evaluate candidates based on performance but rarely do so based on policy positions. A must-read for anyone interested in public opinion and democratic accountability.

(Donald P. Green, Columbia University)

In studying the movement in opinion and behavior, Gabriel S. Lenz brings both good and bad news. The good news is that politicians’ attempts to control the issue agenda in campaigns are not as successful as some of us feared. The bad news is that, instead, citizens mainly—and rather blindly—follow cues from politicians they already prefer. Exploiting existing and underused panel data, Lenz burns through observational equivalence, providing a model not just of clear-eyed analysis but also of patient exposition.

(Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia)

“This is a significant advance in our study of public opinion and voting behavior, offering an important corrective to a number of previous studies and giving us a powerful tool for understanding just how voters reach decisions. Lenz’s book is a valuable and important contribution to the literatures on public opinion, campaigns, voter competency, and democratic theory.”
(Perspectives on Politics 2015-01-26)

About the Author

Gabriel S. Lenz is assistant professor in the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

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