Public Opinion Wilson 7A
Objective Questions Who Governs? To What Ends? • How does public opinion in America today vary by race, gender, and other differences? • What is political ideology, and how does it affect political behavior and influence public policy? • What role did the Framers of the Constitution think public opinion should play in American democracy? • When, if ever, should public policies mirror majority opinion?
Political Cleavages Ideology Party Race Gender
Preamble Goals Six listed Big picture • Perfect union • Justice • Domestic tranquility • Common defense • General welfare • Liberty • Represent people’s wants • Make day-to-day choices • Often not the same • Public ignorance • Common values
Public Opinion • How people feel or think about particular things • Systematically measured • 1900 – corporations and marketers • 1940 – political scientists • Vague knowledge • Limited information • Good decisions
Political Polling • Survey public opinion • Asking good questions (what) • Ask about the right things (how) • A point in time (when) • Random sampling (who) • As a measure of the entire population • Large enough to overcome errors • Call screening • Low response • Exit polls on election day
Poll Results • Opinions differ • Saliency – how strong someone feels • Stability – volatility of opinion • Congruency – correspondence between government action and majority sentiment • Socialization – background traits • Elites – those with disproportionate power know more about politics and are more consistent
Political Socialization • Children follow parents • Younger voters more independent • Stronger in some families • More in the past • Varies with class, race, gender, religion, age • Differences in theological position • More pronounced in social issues • Men (R), Women (D) • Job experience, education • College tends to have a liberalizing effect
Free Response Using the information in the table, and your knowledge of US politics, perform the following two tasks. List 3 groups that were significant in President Clinton’s electoral coalition and explain why each was important. Describe the problems that President Clinton has in sustaining a winning coalition. What constituencies do the present two candidates have within the electorate.