With a little help from the people? The role of public opinion in advocacy success

Rasmussen, Anne and Mäder, Lars Kai and Reher, Stefanie (2018) With a little help from the people? The role of public opinion in advocacy success. Comparative Political Studies, 51 (2). 139–164. ISSN 0010-4140 (https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414017695334)

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Recent years have witnessed an increased interest in research on advocacy success, but limited attention has been paid to the role of public opinion. We examine how support from the public affects advocacy success, relying on a new original data set containing information on public opinion, advocacy positions, and policy outcomes on 50 policy issues in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Claims by advocates are measured through a news media content analysis of a sample of policy issues drawn from national and international public opinion surveys. Our multilevel regression analysis provides evidence that public support affects advocacy success. However, public opinion does not affect preference attainment for some of the lobbying advocates whose influence is feared the most, and the magnitude of its impact is conditional upon the number of advocates who lobby on the policy issue in question.