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Political Beliefs and Behaviors. American political ideology. What’s your political belief?. Survey given to 10-14 year olds One day the President was driving his car to a meeting. Because he was late, he was driving very fast. The police stopped the car. (Finish the story)

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political beliefs and behaviors

Political Beliefs and Behaviors

American political ideology

what s your political belief
What’s your political belief?
  • Survey given to 10-14 year olds
  • One day the President was driving his car to a meeting. Because he was late, he was driving very fast. The police stopped the car. (Finish the story)
  • Different countries answer differently
    • England – Queen would be released
    • France – President would be excused
    • US – President would get a ticket like everyone else
american political culture
American Political Culture
  • Political Culture – a set of widely shared beliefs and values
  • Values & Beliefs – deep-rooted ideals that shape one’s perception of political issues
  • Opinion – a specific view about a particular issue or event (not always objective)
  • Public Opinion – attitudes about institutions, leaders, political issues, and events
core values
  • Liberty and Freedom
    • Freedom of speech and religion are fundamental parts of American political culture
    • People should be free to lead their lives with minimal government interference
core values1
  • Equality
    • Political equality – all adult citizens should have equal voting rights
    • Legal Equality – everyone is entitled to equal treatment before the law
    • Equality of opportunity – all Americans should have a chance to succeed in life
core values2
  • Individualism
    • Respect for the dignity and importance of each individual
    • People should be responsible for their own decisions and well-being
core values3
  • Democracy
    • Government should be based on the consent of the governed
    • The majority has the right to rule
    • The rights of the minority need to be respected and protected
    • Citizens have the responsibility to support their local communities
test tip
  • Many released tests have included questions asking students to identify an answer that is NOT a core value of American political culture
  • Remember - American political culture does support economic opportunity but it does not support economic equality
political socialization
Political Socialization
  • The process by which political values are formed and passed from one generation to the next
  • People in different social “groups” tend to share certain opinions: group identification
  • The #1 most important agent of political socialization
  • Very strong correlation for Political Party support
    • Children raised in households where both parents strongly identify with the same political party are likely to identify with that political party themselves
mass media
Mass Media
  • The major source of political news
  • The “new parent”
  • The Mass Media provides news in small biased pieces called “sound bytes”
  • There are now cable channels, satellite radio channels, websites, blogs, and other media that cater to and reinforce political ideologies rather than report facts
  • Schools attempt to instill the basic values and political culture of democracy.
  • A college education often leads to more liberal views, but more conservative views are often tied to the wealthy – most of whom have a high level of education, but are older.
  • College graduates do have a higher level of political participation than non-graduates.
social groups
Social Groups
  • People in different social “groups” tend to share certain opinions: group identification
  • “Blue collar” (Laborer) typically are Democrats
  • “White collar” (Businessmen) typically are Republicans

* Relationship is becoming less clear in recent elections

  • More men support defense spending, more women support health care issues
  • More women consider sexual harassment a serious problem than do men
  • Since ’60s, women vote Democratic more than men, and vice versa
  • Not as significant of an indicator as marriage (married vs. unmarried)
race and ethnicity
Race and Ethnicity
  • African Americans – 90% Democrats
  • Hispanic Americans – tend to affiliate with Democrats, but less likely than African Americans (Cubans lean Republican)
  • Asian Americans – less liberal than Hispanic Americans or African Americans, but still consistently vote Democrat
  • White, more divided, fluctuates by election
  • Protestants are more conservative on economic matters than Catholics or Jews
  • Jews tend to be more liberal on economic and social issues than Catholics or Protestants
  • Catholics tend to be more liberal on economic issues than they are on social issues (Catholics are becoming more conservative)
  • The “Religious Right” is very socially conservative, especially about gay marriage, school prayer, and abortion
political ideology
Political Ideology
  • Coherent set of values and beliefs about public policy and the role of government
  • The terms “liberal” and “conservative” mean different things at different time periods
  • The extreme wings of both views have become more influential in recent years
the american voter
The American Voter
  • 1950’s study of the American electorate
  • Divided voters into 4 groups:
    • Ideologues (12%) – strong connection to the policy positions of the major parties
    • Group Benefits Voter (42%) – political views based mainly on groups they liked or disliked
    • Nature of the Times Voters (24%) – opinions based on whether things were personally going well or poorly
    • No Issue Content Voter (22%) – voted based on the likeability of the candidate rather than ideology or issues
conservative ideology
Conservative Ideology
  • Supports
    • Expansion of military power
    • Free-market solution to economic problems
    • Less government regulation of business
    • School prayer
  • Opposes
    • Expensive federal social and welfare programs
    • Abortion rights
    • National health care system
liberal ideology
Liberal Ideology
  • Supports
    • Political and social reform
    • Government regulation of business/the economy
    • Abortion rights
    • National health care system
    • Expanded programs for the poor, minorities, & women
  • Opposes
    • Increased military spending
    • Committing troops to foreign wars
    • School prayer
neo cons
  • Neo-Conservatives
  • Low tax, pro-economic growth
  • Ordered approach to domestic issues
    • Traditional values – pro-life, against gay marriage, support death penalty
  • Expansive foreign policy
    • Counter global terrorism – “war on terror”
    • expensive
geographic region
Geographic Region


  • East and West Coasts – more liberal
  • Mid-West – more conservative
  • Urban - liberal
  • South – 1870-1950s - Democrat “Solid South” but today they are primarily social conservatives
  • White Southerners always less liberal
public opinion
Public Opinion
  • The distribution of individual attitudes about a particular policy issue, candidate, political institution, etc.
  • Today, these opinions are most often communicated through the media in the form of polls
george gallup
George Gallup
  • Developed “Gallup Polls”
  • Started in 1932 - 1st“pollster”
  • Since 1936, Gallup’s agency has picked two general election winners incorrectly (‘48 & ‘76)
  • Representative – must mirror population you want to be surveyed
  • Random – give everyone in the target population an equal possibility of being sampled
  • Sample size – 1500 to 2000 is enough
  • Wording – questions can’t be leading
  • Conduct the poll by phone or in person
  • Straw poll – poor polling technique due to unscientific methods (straw in the wind)
  • Cell phones have made polling less accurate
exit polls
Exit Polls
  • Polling after voting
  • Tommy Bradley effect (aka Wilder effect)
    • a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter polls and outcomes in elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other
    • voters will tell pollsters they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, while on election day they vote for the white candidate
    • named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections
    • The Bradley effect theorizes that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias
expanding suffrage
Expanding Suffrage
  • Lifting of property restrictions (1830) – “universal manhood suffrage” gave voting rights to all white males
  • Suffrage for African-Americans (1863-1964)
    • 1865 - 15th Amendment – Voting Rights to all
    • 1954 - Brown v. Board – separate but equal is illegal, killed Jim Crow laws
    • 1964 24th Amendment – banned poll tax
    • 1965 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 – federal law prohibited (no literacy tests, fair elections etc.)
expanding suffrage1
Expanding Suffrage
  • Women’s Suffrage (1920) – 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote

*** Women did have full voting rights in New York and several western states prior to 1920

4. 23rd Amendment (1961) – District of Columbia residents able to vote for the president

5. 18-21 year-olds (1971) – 26th Amendment, sparked by Vietnam

*** States can establish a lower minimum voting age if they choose to do so

types of participation
Types of Participation
  • Conventional Participation
    • Voting in elections.
    • Working in campaigns or running for office.
    • Contacting elected officials.
    • Ringing doorbells for a petition.
    • Running for office.
types of participation1
Types of Participation
  • Protest as Participation
    • Protest – Designed to achieve policy changes through dramatic and unconventional tactics.
    • Civil disobedience – Reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
    • Violence – Riots and fighting.

Presidential Elections

  • 1964 – 69.3%
  • 1980 – 41.3%
  • 1984 – 60.9%
  • 1988 – 40.5%
  • 1992 – 55.2%
  • 1996 – 49.1%
  • 2000 – 51.3%
  • 2004 – 55.3%
  • 2008 – 61.6%
  • 2012 – 58.2%
who really participates
Who REALLY participates?

1. Education – MOST IMPORTANT, more education=more voting

*Increased level of education historically means one is more likely to vote Republican

**2008 was an exception

  • Religious involvement

*Jews and Catholics more likely to vote than Protestants

**Jews and Catholics more likely to vote democratic than are Protestants

who really participates1
Who REALLY participates?
  • Race and Ethnicity – Whites tend to have higher turnout than minorities (might be economically based)

*A major shift of African American voters from the Republican to Democratic party occurred during the 1930’s under FDR

  • Age – 18-24 is the lowest, and 45 and up is the highest (turnout does decrease after age 70)

*Young voters trend Democrat, older voters Republican

who really participates2
Who REALLY participates?
  • Gender – men traditionally voted more, now women are 54% of all voters

*women tend to favor Democrats, men generally favor Republicans

**This is known as the gender gap

  • Marital Status – married people vote at a higher rate than unmarried people
who really participates3
Who REALLY participates?

7. Income – people with more money are more likely to vote

*lower income brackets tend to favor Democrats, higher income voters generally favor Republicans

8. Government Jobs – government workers vote more than those with private sector jobs

other reasons to vote
Other Reasons to Vote
  • Motor Voter Act (1993) –allowed people to register to vote while applying for or renewing a driver’s license
  • Competitive elections have better turnout
  • Presidential elections have higher turnout
  • “Civic Duty” – a belief that a citizen should participate in the democratic process
  • Citizens who see clear policy differences between parties/candidates more likely to vote
reduced turnout
Reduced Turnout
  • Cross-cutting cleavages – voters often belong to more than one group
  • These individuals are influenced by many different factors
  • Anything producing cross-pressures will likely reduce voter turnout
  • It is important when polling or testing these voters that variables are controlled
other reasons for low turnout
Other reasons for low turnout
  • Voter Registration – blamed as one of the causes of low turnout – has reduced fraud
  • Voter cynicism/distrust about government
  • Decline of political efficacy
  • Difficulty of Absentee Voting
  • Number of Offices we elect too high
  • Elections too frequent
  • Weekday, non-holiday voting
  • Weaker/less organized political parties – less effective “get-out-the-vote” campaigns
your mission
Your Mission…
  • Become educated about the candidates and the issues
  • Make sure that you are registered
  • VOTE!!!!!!!!!!