In politics, this all matters a great deal. Larry Bartels of Princeton has recently studied the voting record of the Senate between 1989 and 1994--a time, note, when Democrats controlled Congress. He found that senators were very responsive to the preferences of the upper third of the income spectrum, somewhat less attentive to the middle third, and completely dismissive of the policy preferences of the poorest third. In one striking example, Bartels discovered that senators were likely to vote for a minimum wage increase only when their wealthier constituents favored it--the views of those directly affected by the hike had "no discernible impact."
Nor is this pattern limited to domestic policy. Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota and Benjamin Page of Northwestern have found that the foreign policy views of the executive and legislative branches are primarily influenced by business leaders, policy experts--whose think tanks are often funded by businesses--and, to a lesser extent, organized labor. Jacobs and Page found that the views of the broader public have essentially zero impact on the government when it comes to tariffs, treaties, diplomacy, or military action.another bookTNRhere--Jonathan Chait