Public opinion
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Public Opinion. Chapter 8.1 and 8.2. What is Public Opinion?. Public opinion – those attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics. Public affairs – those events and issues that concern the people at large. Influences in Political Socialization.

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Public Opinion

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Public opinion

Public Opinion

Chapter 8.1 and 8.2


What is public opinion

What is Public Opinion?

  • Public opinion – those attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics.

  • Public affairs – those events and issues that concern the people at large


Influences in political socialization

Influences in Political Socialization

  • Family – Children learn from their parents

  • Schools – teach American values

  • Mass Media -newspapers, magazines, radio, internet, and television. Americans spend a lot of time “tuned in”


Influences in political socialization1

Influences in Political Socialization

  • Peer groups- the people with whom you regularly associate tend to reinforce your own beliefs

  • Opinion leaders – any person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others


Influences in political socialization2

Influences in Political Socialization

  • Historic events – Examples:

    • The Great Depression led people to think government should have a bigger role in assisting the public

    • Nixon’s Watergate scandal decreased the public’s trust in government

    • What are some examples from your lifetime?


Writing break 5 minutes

Writing Break (5 minutes)

  • On a piece of paper write down two issues that interests you.

  • Write a sentence about each one, explaining your stance on the issue.

  • Decide which factor – family, school, peer group, opinion leader, event, or mass media – had the most influence on that stance.


Measuring public opinion

Measuring Public Opinion

  • Elections give citizens the opportunity to express themselves at the ballot box.

  • A party and its victories candidates claim to have received a mandate to carry out their campaign promises.

  • Interest Groups – private organizations whose members share certain views and objectives and work to shape the making of the content of public policy.


Measuring public opinion1

Measuring Public Opinion

  • Public opinion polls – devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions. They were not very scientific until the 1930’s.

  • Straw vote - asking the same question of a large number of people. 1936 election, Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Alfred Landon.


Measuring public opinion2

Measuring Public Opinion

  • Scientific polling – 5 steps

    • Define the universe to be surveyed

    • Construct a sample

    • Prepare valid questions

    • Interviewing, select and control how the poll will be taken

    • Analyze and report finding to the public


Polling key terms

Polling Key Terms

  • Universe – the whole population the poll aims to measure

  • Sample – a representative slice of the total universe

    • Random sample – interview randomly selected people in randomly selected locations

    • Quota sample – constructed to reflect several of the major characteristics of a given universe


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