Public Opinion and Socialization Political Beliefs and Behavior #3.

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Public Opinion and Socialization

Public Opinion and SocializationPolitical Beliefs and Behavior #3Government for the people, by the peopleExcept.We dont have a balanced budgetThe Equal Rights Amendment did not passSchool bussing programs continued.No meaningful campaign finance reformLax gun control lawsAll of these policies are supported by a majority of the peoplePublic Opinion vs. Public PolicyThe purpose of the United States Government was not to have popular rule.The founders looked for substantive goals and public opinion was just one of the options to get thereFederalism and a large republic contains many publics that dont reach the needed consensus.What is Public Opinion?Although the definition is simple understanding how it works and what goes into it is often overlooked.Qualities of Public OpinionIntensity/SaliencyMost public opinion polls do a bad job at measuring how strongly somebody feels about an issue.

What do you think the percentage of people who believe abortion should be available in some form in the United States?Saliency can influence perception of public opinion by making it appear one side has a stronger numerical base. In addition a smaller, intense group may have a better chance of influencing policy than a larger non-intense groupQualities of Public Opinion?Stability and FluidityThe rate at which public opinion shifts over time. Any opinion that stays around the same over a long period of time is said to be stable. Any opinion that dramatically changes over a long (or short) period of time is said to be fluid

Stable Opinion:AbortionFluid Opinion:War In Iraq

Qualities of Public OpinionDistributionThe typical American public opinion is distributed over many different positions (most issues do not have just two sides to it). Distribution can tell politicians how much compromise is possible on a particular issue

Public Opinion PollingQualities of a valid public opinion pollRandom SampleA sample in which every element in a population has an equal chance of being selectedQuestions must be comprehensiblePeople make up answers to questions they cannot understandQuestions must be fairCannot contain loaded language (push polling) that can influence responsesPublic Opinion PollingKeep In MindSampling Error: In particular in close racesFor a population over 500,000 pollsters need to make about 15,000 calls to reach 1,065 respondents to get a poll with a +/- error of 3%Lack of responses hurts accuracyImpact of PollsBandwagon EffectDonations to CandidatesVoter Turnout

Political SocializationThe process in which we gather our political values and become politically aware.

Sources of Political Socialization

The FamilyReligion GenderThe FamilyMajority of high school students know and support the party affiliation of their parentsHowever, in recent years, people are less likely to identify with a political party, so it is becoming more difficult to pass this along.The Family and the Generation Gap

More Likely to Support gay marriage Support womens rights Support privatizing social security Believe politicians have different priorities Not identify with a political partyMore Likely to Be against gay marriage Be against womens rights Maintaining current social security Believe politicians share priorities Identify with a political partyReligionMost Americans are somewhat or deeply religiousDifference lies in what role religion should play in politicsReligious influences most pronounced on social issuesAbortionGay RightsDifferences not only between religions but within themGender Gap

Gender GapThe difference between political views of men and womenWomen more likely to favorUniversal Health CareSame-Sex MarriageWomen less likely to favorMilitary Intervention

Impact Of Gender GapFrom 1920 to 1980 any differences were negated by lower voter turnout of womenSince 1980 woman have had a slightly higher rate of voter turnoutWomen have been more likely to vote for the Democratic Presidential Candidates.

D R R D D R R R11%Gender Gap in Elections Since 1980

April 17, 2012 by Pew Research CenterOverall Womens VoteObama: 53%Romney 40%45%


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