Democracy, Leadership and Health Care

Award Year:
Lawrence Jacobs
Politics and Policymaking, Public Opinion
Dr. Jacobs develops a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the relationship between national policymakers and public opinion in relation to the debate over health care reform. He investigates the relationship between public opinion, media coverage, and the decisions of Congress and the Clinton administration. Questions about what type of opinion-policy relationship should exist in a democracy are addressed, including whether policy leaders, in designing current health policy, are responding to public opinion or directing it. The project also explores: mass media coverage of health care; media's influence on the issues that people identify as important; the policy directions they favor; and the accuracy of the media's interpretations of public opinion polls. Extensive analysis of polling data, President Clinton's policy statements, Congressional records, media coverage, and interviews with key policymakers is undertaken. Robert Y. Shapiro, Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, collaborates.