When asked how he expects to pass some of his proposed, sweeping legislation such as his “Medicare for All” and “free college tuition” proposals, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders often responds that he intends to start a “political revolution,” Vox.com explained.
A mass movement of public opinion in favor of his broad social policies and reforms, he says, will essentially force politicians to support those policies.
But a new research study by political scientists from Yale University and George Washington University suggests that Sanders may be in for a disappointment — as will anyone who believes that public opinion can influence the actions of elected representatives.
The study, published on July 7 and available online from OSF Preprints, found that politicians, at least at the state legislative level, simply do not care about their constituents’ viewpoints at all.
“An overwhelming majority of legislators were uninterested in learning about their constituents’ views,” wrote researchers Joshua Kalla and Ethan Porter in a New York Times op-ed summarizing the findings of their two-year study.
“For most politicians, voters’ views seemed almost irrelevant.”
Kalla and Porter surveyed 2,346 state legislators, picked at random. They then gave those legislators access to an online “dashboard of constituent opinion” from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. But despite what the researchers called “extensive outreach” to the legislators, only 11 percent bothered to access the detailed information on their constituents’ opinions.