Tides of Consent

How Public Opinion Shapes American Politics

Tides of Consent

Tracking trends in American public opinion, this study examines moods of public policy over time. James Stimson looks at shorter term movements as the public approves or disapproves politicians, trusts or distrusts government. His book is distinctive in that it focuses on determining the unobserved true opinion that lies beneath superficial polls. It argues that public opinion is decisive in American politics and identifies the citizens who produce influential change as a relatively small subset of the American electorate.


 Reviews:

"Stimson deftly interprets mathematical analysis of large quantities of public answers to survey questions. Highly recommended." CHOICE June 2005

"The book is well written and a rare example of successful integration of state-of-the-art research and passing on knowledge to a wider audience...the book could be used as a benchmark for comparative research exploring the evolution in public opinion and the effects of campaigns and debates in other institutional settings...an excellent book, which deserves to be widely read." Political Studies Review

"...scholars and their students will find much to appreciate as well in this clearly written and engaging book, filled with interesting time series data and colorful examples about politicians and campaigns we all remember...Stimson believes that the most important thing in American politics is public opinion but says we have only 'scratched the surface' in understanding opinion movement (p. xvi). His work has done much more than scratch the surface, and in Tides of Consent, he accomplishes his goal of making his research accessible to a broader audience than he has reached before." Political Science Quarterly, Fay Lomax Cook, Northwestern University

"This is excellent work by a scholar who is, by all measures, top in his field. Stimson writes about the single most important element in American politics: public opinion. He traces movement in public opinion over time and shows that it moves politics." Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Ohio State University

"Tides of Consent is an ambitious attempt to integrate the findings of a half-century of public opinion research in an effort to draw convincing conclusions about the political implications and electoral consequences of public opinion. Too often public opinion is presented as filler, a spot on the evening news when nothing else is available.Rarely do we look at public opinion in its contemporary context and almost never do we attempt to understand its significance over the long haul. In this book, Stimson offers us new insights into public preferences and understanding of the links between public preferences and public policy that are often lost in coverage of the daily news or the political campaign." John McIver, University of Colorado

"James Stimson has written a very important - and very readable - book. In a world of erratic sound bites, Stimson's analysis provides the underlying coherence of a symphony. Anyone who wishes to better understand the ebb and flow of American politics should read Tides of Consent"' Richard J. Tofel, Newspaper Executive

"Tides of Consent is an excellent work. This book could be used as a textbook in an undergraduate course on public opinion, and it also makes a very good starting point for a graduate seminar on the same topic. Finally, it is simply interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable reading material that I would recommend to any political scientist."
Perspectives on Politics

"James A. Stimson has written another important book on American public opinion, this time geared to show a general audience how one fundamental aspect of 'democracy' works: that public opinion, contrary to its critics, looks sensibe and 'citizens succeed in communicating their preferences to government'" - Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University


 Prizes:

2009 Recipient of the Society for Political Methodology's Career Achievement Award
Winner, 2006 Goldsmith Book Award, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University

No references available.