PUBLIC OPINION. Two big questions: 1.) How much impact should public opinion have on govt. policy between elections? 2.) How do we even know what public opinion is?. Why elections are imperfect indicators of public opinion.
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Two big questions:1.) How much impact should public opinion have on govt. policy between elections?
2.) How do we even know what public opinion is?
1.) 19th and early 20th Centuries Literary Digest Poll fiasco in 1936: why did it fail?
2.) Rise of more scientific polling: probability sampling and why it works
Ex. Simple random sample, random digit dialing, multi-stage cluster sampling, stratified sample
3.) Sampling ErrorTypical margins for error for random samplen = 100 10.3n = 1500 2.6
n = 500 4.5n = 2000 2.2
4.) Other sources of error in public opinion surveys besides sampling errora.) biased question wording (intentional or unintentional)b.) interviewer effects, social desirability effects the so-called “Bradley effect”c.) unbalanced question wording
None of these are figured into the “margin for error”
1.) US political Culture: almost universally shared, highly stable, commitment to abstract ideas and principles, historic2.) Regional subcultures?
3.) Ideology: emphasis on certain aspects of US political culture as opposed to others, general principles, not universally shared, relatively stable, helps structure positions on specific issues of the day4.) Positions on specific issues of the day
2.) Distrust of Government
3.) Faith in free-market capitalism
5.) Equality of opportunity (equal starting line)
6.) Relatively high religiosity
Different ideologies are based on selective emphasis on some aspects of US political culture, different interpretations of cultural principles
Hallmarks of ideology: stability and predictability of opinions on specific issues (because they’re tied to underlying general principles)
1.) Mainstream (21st Century) liberalism: more government intervention in the economy to promote equality, less government intervention on moral issues (except for guns!)
2.) Mainstream (21st Century) conservatism: more government intervention to promote morality, less government intervention in the economy in order to promote individualism and free-market
3.) Libertarianism: less government intervention all around4.) Populism/Communitarianism: more government intervention to promote the “will of the people”
---Allows for more efficient processing of political information
---Helps to mobilize and encourage political participation and political interest
---Leads to selective perception and ideological filtering (the “echo chamber”)
---Contributes to polarization and less civil politics?
Are Americans becoming more ideologically polarized? Or is it just the elites?
1.) Political Socialization -- parents, teachers, friends, churches, workplaces
2.) Generational experiences – Civil War, Depression, WWII, Sixties, 9/113.) Life Cycle Effects
4.) News Media --- a brief historya.) the era of partisan media (1790s-1880s)
b.) mass market journalism (1880s-1960s)c.) the cynical, investigative media (1960s-1990s)
d.) narrowcasting and infotainment (1990s-today)
What Effects Does Media Have on Public Opinion? Persuasion? Agenda-Setting? Framing? Reinforcement?