Our national obsession with opinion polls reflects an assumption that what people think and believe matters. But does it? Do citizens endorse the basic principles of a democratic system? How much knowledge should they have? And do they organize their political thinking? In a new introductory text for public opinion courses, Clawson and Oxley clearly and systematically link these enduring normative questions of democratic theory to the existing empirical research on public opinion to explore the tension between those ideals and their practice.After introducing these normative debates, the authors then assess how well theorists'in political science as well as in related disciplines such as sociology and psychology'have responded and the empirical evidence they have marshaled. Each subsequent chapter takes on one of those central questions and focuses on a handful of exemplary studies instead of synthesizing all of the relevant literature. Rather than overwhelming students with encyclopedic detail, students see how methods are applied within the context of specific studies, providing a richer understanding of the research process than a standalone methods chapter can offer.Clawson, Rosalee A. is the author of 'Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice', published 2008 under ISBN 9780872893047 and ISBN 0872893049.