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Customer Review

on November 16, 2012
Technology seems to lead a lot. So does economy. Next, what is "in the walls. "And then, maybe, the president and the "mass public" which are the theme of this intriguing book. -For a non-US citizen it is a little strange what is "in the walls"in the US. The US judicial system, for example, is probably just, but dramatically different from those of Europe or Saudi Arabia. Likewise, for a US citizen, the judicial system of Europe may be more alien than Europeans can understand. Thus, this book is about the changes presidents can make, given "the walls".

The title of the book "Who leads whom?" made me interested in the book; it also summarizes nicely what the book is about. I very much like the blend of case studies, theory and statistical tests. The case studies show what to look for, the theory gives ways to look, and the statistical tests show if you looked right, guessed well, and made the right choices in putting the tests up. (See e.g. p 131). In the book chapters 1, 2, 4 and 6 starts with a story about a president, his intentions and his actions (Soon, I hope, I can write his or hers)

The question is if the president is a leader or a follower with respect to the "mass public" (the "public" would probably have done) and as a secondary hypothesis, if he is pandering more as elections approach. In choosing among narrative formulations and ways to express variables numerically, the author makes a series of impressive and convincing choices.

The answer to the secondary hypothesis is "yes", as it- probably should be. And it strengthens the case made to test the rest of the hypotheses. The major finding can be summarized: During the second half of a president's term, a 10 point decline in the president's approval decreases the likelihood that he takes a popular position by 22%. When popularity is 5% above the mean, the likelihood that he follows public opinion is decreased by 38%. (p. 176-7). I think this is correctly stated, although not word for word. (i suppose a "popular position" = " follows public opinion".)
The following sentence require more thought from my side: "The lower degree of responsiveness by Clinton is in one sense surprising given his reputation for following the public opinion. The finding, however, is consistent with Jacobs and Shapiro, who argue that Clinton did not design his policies to cater to public opinion, but instead tried to craft an opinion that supported his agenda." (p. 177-8) - So far, this statement seems to undermine the analysis. Or does it mean that the author have implied, or explained a "Who leads whom" sequence that I did not manage to see?

I read this book because I wanted to examine the application of utility theory to conflict resolution. And then put the results from such an analysis into some type of game formulation. Although the book does not address such questions explicitly, it dealt with many issues that would be relevant is the context. And they became relevant, because the author writes so (most often) clearly.
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