This chapter reviews extant accounts of public opinion responsiveness, party positioning, political business cycles, and endogenous agenda setting by parties and governments that have different assumptions about how policymakers process relevant signals from the external world. Empirical studies do not convincingly ascertain the direction of causation in the policy-opinion linkages, or generalize from weak results. An account of why political actors would see it in their interest to respond with increased attention to policy issues is not readily available from relevant literatures. It is not obvious that it should be in the incumbent’s interest always to respond to public signals of priority, nor is it clear that government should always intervene in a crisis. Even theories claiming that politicians will be motivated by ideology have difficulty explaining prioritization.
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