What is public opinion?

Critical Review 10 (1):95-105 (1996)
Abstract Three recent books on public opinion attempt to map changes in the public's policy preferences over the last few decades. Such changes have clearly occurred, but a single, overriding ?public mood? remains elusive. Rather, different components of the public mood seem to move in different directions. Furthermore, it is unclear how much of the apparent change in public mood is real and how much is an artifact resulting from changes in public policies. Yet elite perceptions, or misperceptions, of public opinion are important determinants of those very policies, raising questions about the coherence of opinion?led government.
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