I’m sure all of these theories are at least partially right. But they’re missing the big one that has the best evidence behind it: The unemployed don’t have very much money. And it’s money that gets the political system interested in your agenda:
Gilens has been collecting the results of nearly 2,000 survey questions reaching back to the 1980s, looking for evidence that when opinions change, so too does policy. And he found it — but only for the rich. “Most policy changes with majority support didn’t become law,” Hacker and Pierson write. The exception was “when they were supported by those at the top. When the opinions of the poor diverged from those of the well-off, the opinions of the poor ceased to have any apparent influence: If 90 percent of poor Americans supported a policy change, it was no more likely to happen than if 10 percent did. By contrast, when more of the well-off supported a change, it was substantially more likely to happen.”If 15 million college-educated professionals were unemployed right now, the political system would care.
I spent a little time trying to find the original study, but I couldn't track it down. I guess you'd have to read the book, but suffice to say that I am not surprised.