Imagine a country in which public opinion does not matter; where
public policy decisions are made for the "right reason" rather than the
right rankings in public opinion polls.
What sounds like a nightmare for the DC lobbyists and public affairs
executives who commission polls to help make the case for their clients
is the utopia of policy wonks.
CATO Institute has just published a paper by political scientist Robert
Weissberg that states in its executive summary: "Policymakers often
assume that public opinion is a reliable guide to making public policy,
but they should not."
Seems the good professor feels that the polls cannot measure the nuances
and complexities of an issue to really provide informed public
But for worried staffers in the agencies of K Street, here's some
comfort from James Bryce, who noted in The American Commonwealth in
1891: "Towering over (elected officials and the political parties) ...
public opinion stands out, in the United States, as the great servant of
power, the master of servants who tremble before it."