Yes WE can or yes HE can? citizen preferences regarding styles of representation and presidential voting behavior

David C. Barker, Christopher Jan Carman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper considers the manner and extent to which citizens’ preferences regarding styles of political representation influence electoral choices, at both the nominating and the general election stages. Using unique survey data gathered for the purpose of examining this question, the authors focus on the 2008 presidential election cycle as an analytical case. They find considerable evidence that Democratic voters are more likely than Republicans to prefer a president who follows the wishes of the American public when it comes to making policy. Republicans, by contrast, are more inclined to expect a president to ignore public opinion, listening instead to his or her internal conscience. The authors speculate that this pattern helped John McCain capture the Republican presidential nomination, but diminished his chances of defeating Barack Obama in the fall.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-448
Number of pages18
JournalPresidential Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • political representation
  • presidential election
  • United States
  • citizens
  • preferences

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