People, Polls And Policymakers

In This Review

People, Polls And Policymakers

By Ronald H. Hinckley
Lexington Books, 1992
157 pp. $22.95
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This slim volume is a deft handbook about public opinion on America's world role, one that marshals a wealth of data and develops several careful case studies. Its basic conclusions are fresh and thought-provoking: American opinion has long been fractured, so periods of apparent consensus reflect agreement on means more than ends; but those opinions are responsible and wary, not accepting or naive; and polls themselves affect policy-making, all the more given the biases of polls and the stakes of policymakers who use them. The book's guidance is as arresting as its conclusions: when the public is ignorant, as over Central America, it needs educating. But "if the public learns the lesson but still does not care, then perhaps policymakers need to reexamine the sense of importance they place on the policy they are advocating."