Introduction: Studying Public Opinion
in the American States
JEFFREY E. COHEN
Scholarly interest in state-level public opinion has grown in recent years. New data collections, methodologies, and theoretical approaches have all stimulated interest. One indication of this growing interest was the short course, “The Uses of Public Opinion Data in State Politics and Policy Research,” held at the 2003 American Political Science Association. Many of the participants at that short course are represented in these pages (e.g., Paul Brace, Robert Erikson, John McIver, Barbara Norrander, and Gerald Wright). Some may even like to think of state public opinion as an emergent subfield in political science.
Yet since the publication of Erikson, Wright, and McIver’s seminal Statehouse Democracy (1993) over a decade ago, no major book-length study of public opinion in the American states has been published. Public Opinion in State Politics provides the first book on the topic in a decade in hopes of stimulating research on state public opinion by collecting in one convenient place some of the best recent research on the topic. Another aim of Public Opinion in State Politics is to increase the accessibility of work in the subfield to scholars beyond those doing research on state public opinion. The issues and questions that state public opinion scholars deal with are relevant to those with interests in public opinion, public policy making, democratic theory and representation, and political development, among other subfields.
The authors of the chapters in Public Opinion in State Politics present a