Who really matters in our democracy — the general public, or wealthy elites? That's the topic of a new study by political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. The study's been getting lots of attention, because the authors conclude, basically, that the US is a corrupt oligarchy where ordinary voters barely matter...The Vox link discusses these conclusions in some detail. This graph shows the probability of a policy being adopted by the U.S. vs the percentage of the general population that agrees with the policy:
And this one shows the approval probability vs the preferences of the economic elite and special interest groups:
The study is here. This from their Abstract:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.