Trust in government dropped to a near-record low during the 1992 election as Ross Perot’s startling campaign illustrated all too graphically. Stephen Craig shows the trajectory of this popular discontent over the years and predicts that the “confidence gap” is not likely to close until citizens adjust their perceptions and expectations of government—a shift that would represent a major change in our political culture. Blending survey data and interviews with both elites and nonelites, Craig gives us a nuanced view of how people assess their leaders, how leaders see themselves, and how opinions converge and diverge on the issues that matter most: the economy, the environment, and, above all, the quality of our democracy.
Table of Contents
Preface -- A Crisis of Confidence? -- Looking for Causes -- An Ethos of Democracy -- Citizens: Is Anybody Listening? -- Leaders: Fingers on the Public Pulse? -- Popular Discontent and the Future of American Politics -- Wording of Survey Questions -- Profiles of Alachua County Depth Interview Respondents -- Description of Congressional Sample
Stephen C. Craig is associate professor of political science at the University of Florida as well as coordinator of the university’s graduate program in Political Campaigning and director of the Florida Institute for Research on Elections. He has published numerous articles on the nature of American public opinion and is currently putting together an edited volume that will examine the changing relationship between citizens and their governmental leaders, institutions, and the political process in general. Dr. Craig has worked extensively with both academic and political surveys and continues to do polling and focus group research for clients in Florida and elsewhere.