Public Opinion and Political BehaviorsUnit IIBPublic Opinion
Public OpinionThe attitudes, perceptions, and viewpoints individuals hold about government and politicsInfluenced by political culture and political socializationSkewed by limited political education and efficacyShaped by government, interest groups, and mass media
Measurement of Public OpinionDevelopment of PollsStraw PollsAsked same question to large number of peopleUnreliable due to no cross-section of general populationGeorge Gallups IdeasSamplingRepresent general population and randomizedValid questionsClear, fair, unbiased, not misleadingControl of pollTone of question, basic knowledge of issuesAnalysisProvide sampling errors, show time and place of pollExit PollsPublic opinion surveys to determine electoral winnersPush PollsMisleading poll questions to push a certain choice/candidate/issue
Measuring Public OpinionPublic opinion polls are most reliable measurement of public opinionMeasured QualitiesIntensity of beliefsReal wants and needsConstant or changing opinionsConsensus or polarized over issuesReliable?Who conducts the poll?What is the sample size? Large sample size? Small sample size?Population sample? Randomized sample? Representative sample?Time of poll? Relevant to current issues?Methodology? Consistent measures?Sampling error? Low margin of error? Within -/+ 3%?Clarity of questions? Unbiased? Unambiguous?
Sample Poll ExamplesDo you favor or oppose taxes?Do you favor or oppose taxes as a means to national security?Do you favor or oppose Senator Smith, who voted to raise taxes last session?Do you favor or oppose a state income tax of 7%?
Political TrustGovernment is a necessary evilMajor shifts in public opinion with major eventsPearl HarborVietnam9/11Hurricane KatrinaGreat Recession
Confidence in Institutions
Political IdeologiesA consistent set of political beliefsDevelop based on economic, political, and social issuesPolitical ideologies may change over time
Political IdeologiesRadicalRapid fundamental changes; extreme methods such as revolutionLiberalSupports political and social reforms; government regulations; minority support; equalityModerateMore tolerant; shares liberal and conservative beliefsConservativeSupport social and economic status quo; reluctant for change, and only gradual change; less government; libertyReactionaryReturn to previous or historical system; extreme methods for accomplishment
On American Issues
ISSUELIBERALCONSERVATIVEScope of GovernmentLarge government to enforce liberties and equalityLimited government; states rightsTaxesIncrease for businesses and upper-classTax cuts for businesses and all classesGovernment SpendingIncrease to stimulate economyDecrease to avoid debt; austerity policiesDefense Spending and MilitaryDecrease bureaucracy and spendingIncrease for national securityAffirmative ActionSupport and expandReduce or eliminate; reverse racismAbortionPro-choice; include as part of health carePro-life; allowed only in cases of rape, incest, health of motherEconomyIncreased regulation; support Federal ReserveFree enterprise and free market economyGlobal WarmingMan-made consequenceNatural global cycleSame-Sex MarriageSupport equality of marriageMarriage between a man and woman; states decideGlobal AffairsSupport the United NationsAmerican exceptionalismEnergyAlternative and cleaner resourcesSubsidies for natural gas, oil, coalSocial SecurityPreserve the safety netNeeds reform; privatizationHealth CareGovernment-controlled low-cost care; single-payer optionFree market and private-run health careDeath PenaltyInhumaneCrime deterrentImmigrationEasier path to citizenship; multiculturalSecure the borders; English at official languagePrayer in SchoolsViolates separation of church and state; secular governmentOfficial practice; teach intelligent designGlobal MarketFair tradeFree trade2nd Amendment (Right to bear arms)Gun controlGun rightsEqualityFair chanceEqual opportunity