Winning without winning: Neoliberalism, public opinion, and electoral politics in the United States (1968–2000)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This chapter explores the relationship between neoliberalism and public opinion in the United States during the later decades of the twentieth century. The chapter argues that it was at an elite level of politics that neoliberalism's ascendancy during this period was secured, and that there was no parallel transformation of public opinion. Republicans first advanced initiatives based on the neoliberal ideas being formulated by policy experts, because these promised to make more appealing their economic conservatism that had struggled to mobilise a majority at the polls. But then, crucially, the electoral success of the Republican Party under Reagan encouraged Democrats to adopt a neoliberal agenda; although in the 1980s the Reagan administration instituted cuts in taxation and some government programmes, in the 1990s the Clinton administration not only left these changes untouched, but also expanded the reach of neoliberalism through global agreements on free trade. By contrast, many Americans remained “ideological conservatives” but “operational liberals.” The significant exception to this pattern of relative stability in public opinion was an increase in support for reductions in taxation, an exception that facilitated the advance of neoliberalism in both parties and across the policymaking arena.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Anglo-American Model of Neoliberalism of the 1980s
Subtitle of host publicationConstruction, Development and Dissemination
EditorsNathalie Lévy, Alexis Chommeloux, Nathalie A. Champroux, Stéphane Porion, Selma Josso, Audrey Damiens
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783031120749
ISBN (Print)9783031120732
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022


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