chapter  5
14 Pages

The Vocal Minority in U.S. Politics

WithAndrew Kohut, Carol Bowman

Increasingly in the 1990s, American public opinion is being distorted and exaggerated by the voices that dominate the airwaves of talk radio, respond to call-in polls and clog the White House switchboard every time the administration stumbles. The vocal minority sounds a conservative tone on many issues and is much more critical of President Bill Clinton and his policies. This chapter explores how Americans are making their voices heard in the new electronic age, and examines the ways in which the distinctive views of the vocal minority differ from those of the rest of the population. There are two methods in particular by which this vocal minority exercises its clout: talk radio and contacts with congressional offices. Radio's vocal minority was also more negative about Clinton's economic program than were "average Americans" responding to national surveys. The vocal minority's views on Bill Clinton may reflect the influence of talk show hosts who conduct the political discourse.