Monday, October 10, 2011

Abstracting: The Democratic Deficit in US States

In the Monkey Cage, Andrew Gelman passes along an article by Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips:
We study how well states translate public opinion into policy. Using national surveys and advances in subnational opinion estimation, we estimate state-level support for 39 policies across eight issue areas, including abortion, law enforcement, health care, and education. We show that policy is highly responsive to policy-specific opinion, even controlling for other influences. But we also uncover a striking “democratic deficit”: policy is congruent with majority will only half the time. The analysis considers the influence of institutions, salience, partisan control of government, and interest groups on the magnitude and ideological direction of this democratic deficit. We find the largest influences to be legislative professionalization, term limits, and issue salience. Partisanship and interest groups affect the ideological balance of incongruence more than the aggregate degree thereof. Finally, policy is overresponsive to ideology and party—leading policy to be polarized relative to state electorates.