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Definition: Definition: Public opinion is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people – it is the sum of all of their views. Public.

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Presentation on theme: "Definition: Definition: Public opinion is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people – it is the sum of all of their views. Public."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Definition: Definition: Public opinion is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people – it is the sum of all of their views. Public opinion is a complex collection of the opinions of many different people – it is the sum of all of their views.

3 Many publics exist in the United States: How is each one made up? Many publics exist in the United States: How is each one made up? Those individuals who hold the same view on some particular public issue. Those individuals who hold the same view on some particular public issue. Notice this important point: NOT many issues capture the attention of all; or nearly all Americans. Notice this important point: NOT many issues capture the attention of all; or nearly all Americans.

4 Public opinion includes only those views that relate to public affairs. Public opinion includes only those views that relate to public affairs. DEFINE public affairs: DEFINE public affairs: Includes politics, public issues and the making of public policy. Includes politics, public issues and the making of public policy.

5 Public opinion is so complex that it cannot readily be defined. Public opinion is so complex that it cannot readily be defined. Public opinion can be expressed in a variety of ways: Public opinion can be expressed in a variety of ways: Newspaper, , vote, billboard, a film, a protest demonstration. Newspaper, , vote, billboard, a film, a protest demonstration.

6 Each of us learns our political opinions and we do so in a lifelong “classroom” and from many different “teachers”. Each of us learns our political opinions and we do so in a lifelong “classroom” and from many different “teachers”. Public opinion is formed out of a very complex process and the factors involved in it are almost infinite. Public opinion is formed out of a very complex process and the factors involved in it are almost infinite.

7 Most parents (and family members) do not think of themselves as agents of political socialization, however they are very important in this process. Most parents (and family members) do not think of themselves as agents of political socialization, however they are very important in this process. How can children learn politics from their family? How can children learn politics from their family? Hear what their parents say, watch same TV news and shows, etc. Hear what their parents say, watch same TV news and shows, etc.

8 The start of formal schooling marks the initial break in the influence of the family. The start of formal schooling marks the initial break in the influence of the family. Schools teach children the values of the American political system. Schools teach children the values of the American political system. What is an important part of the educational system? What is an important part of the educational system? Help students understand the importance of good citizenship. Help students understand the importance of good citizenship.

9 DEFINE: Means of communication that reaches a widely dispersed audience. DEFINE: Means of communication that reaches a widely dispersed audience. Television is the best example of mass media.

10 Peer groups are made up of the people with whom one regularly associates. (friends, classmates, neighbors, co-workers) Peer groups are made up of the people with whom one regularly associates. (friends, classmates, neighbors, co-workers) How can peer groups influence opinions? How can peer groups influence opinions? People trust the views of their friends. People trust the views of their friends. Peer groups share many of the same socializing experiences. Peer groups share many of the same socializing experiences.

11 DEFINE: any person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others. DEFINE: any person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others. Many hold public office, some write for newspapers or magazines, or broadcast their views on radio or TV. Many hold public office, some write for newspapers or magazines, or broadcast their views on radio or TV. Opinion leaders also come from occupations or religious organizations. Opinion leaders also come from occupations or religious organizations.

12 Can have a major impact on the views of large numbers of people and also on the content and direction of public policy. Can have a major impact on the views of large numbers of people and also on the content and direction of public policy. Example = Great Depression Example = Great Depression Persuaded a large majority of Americans to support a much larger role for government in the nation’s economic and social life. Persuaded a large majority of Americans to support a much larger role for government in the nation’s economic and social life.

13 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Vietnam and Watergate produced a dramatic decline in the American people’s trust in their government. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Vietnam and Watergate produced a dramatic decline in the American people’s trust in their government.

14 Some effort must be made to measure public opinion; the following provide some degree of means of measurement: Some effort must be made to measure public opinion; the following provide some degree of means of measurement:

15 MEASURE When a party or candidate claims a mandate, this refers to the instructions or commands a constituency gives to its elected officials. When a party or candidate claims a mandate, this refers to the instructions or commands a constituency gives to its elected officials. Voters choose a candidate for any of several reasons – not just on stances for public issues/questions Voters choose a candidate for any of several reasons – not just on stances for public issues/questions. PROBLEM WITH

16 MEASURE Private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape the making and the content of public policy. Private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape the making and the content of public policy. How many people do they actually represent? How many people do they actually represent? How strongly do they hold their views? How strongly do they hold their views? PROBLEM WITH

17 MEASURE The media are frequently described as “mirrors” as well as “molders” of opinion. The media are frequently described as “mirrors” as well as “molders” of opinion. Reflect the views of a vocal minority. Reflect the views of a vocal minority. PROBLEM WITH

18 MEASURE Members of Congress receive bags of mail, 100s of phone calls and s everyday. Members of Congress receive bags of mail, 100s of phone calls and s everyday. They also conduct public meetings. They also conduct public meetings. Can public officials find the “voice” of the people in all of those contacts. PROBLEM WITH

19 Public opinion is best measured by public opinion polls: Public opinion is best measured by public opinion polls: Devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions. Devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions.

20 Asking the same question of a large number of people to read the public’s mind - these are still fairly common today, however, not to reliable. Asking the same question of a large number of people to read the public’s mind - these are still fairly common today, however, not to reliable. What is the problem with the straw vote? What is the problem with the straw vote? Not a good cross-section of the total population. Not a good cross-section of the total population.

21 Serious efforts to take the public’s pulse on a scientific basis date from the mid-1930s. Serious efforts to take the public’s pulse on a scientific basis date from the mid-1930s. Most of the more than 1000 scientific polls deal with commercial work, but 200 deal with politics Most of the more than 1000 scientific polls deal with commercial work, but 200 deal with politics What are among the best known? What are among the best known? Gallup - Rasmussen - Harris Gallup - Rasmussen - Harris

22 Scientific poll-taking is an extremely complex process that can best be described in (5) basic steps: Scientific poll-taking is an extremely complex process that can best be described in (5) basic steps: 1. Define the Universe 2. Constructing a Sample 3. Preparing Valid Questions 4. Interviewing 5. Analyze and Report Findings

23 Defining the Universe: The ‘Universe’ is a term that means the whole population that the poll aims to measure. The ‘Universe’ is a term that means the whole population that the poll aims to measure.

24 Constructing a Sample: In most cases, it is not possible to interview a complete universe, so the pollster must select a sample – representative slice of total universe. In most cases, it is not possible to interview a complete universe, so the pollster must select a sample – representative slice of total universe. Most professional pollsters draw a random sample Most professional pollsters draw a random sample How does this work? How does this work? Random people who live in a certain number of randomly selected places are selected. Random people who live in a certain number of randomly selected places are selected.

25 1500 is the number of people usually interviewed for a national poll is the number of people usually interviewed for a national poll. What is the margin of error in these polls? What is the margin of error in these polls? +/- 3 +/- 3

26 Preparing Valid Questions: Preparing Valid Questions: The way in which questions are worded is very important because the wording can affect the reliability of any poll. The way in which questions are worded is very important because the wording can affect the reliability of any poll. How do reliable pollsters attempt to make valid questions? How do reliable pollsters attempt to make valid questions? 1. Do not use loaded, emotionally charged words 2. Avoid questions that tend to shape the answers that are given.

27 Interviewing: Most polls are taken face to face, but there is an increase in the amount of telephone and mail polls. Most polls are taken face to face, but there is an increase in the amount of telephone and mail polls. What is the important element in whatever method is used? What is the important element in whatever method is used? Same method or technique is used with all respondents. Same method or technique is used with all respondents.

28 Analyze and Report Findings: Analyze and Report Findings: Scientific polling organizations collect huge amounts of data and use technology to tabulate, interpret, and eventually publish the findings. Scientific polling organizations collect huge amounts of data and use technology to tabulate, interpret, and eventually publish the findings.

29 Most responsible pollsters are aware that their polls are far from perfect and acknowledge that fact. Most responsible pollsters are aware that their polls are far from perfect and acknowledge that fact. Pollsters have a difficult time measuring the following: Pollsters have a difficult time measuring the following:

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31 DEFINE medium: DEFINE medium: Means of communication Means of communication The four major mass media (ranked in terms of impact) are: Television, newspapers, radio and magazines. The four major mass media (ranked in terms of impact) are: Television, newspapers, radio and magazines.

32 The mass media are NOT part of the government: The mass media are NOT part of the government: However - they are an important force in politics because people acquire most of the information about the government from the various forms of media. However - they are an important force in politics because people acquire most of the information about the government from the various forms of media.

33 Replaced newspapers as the principal source of American political information in the early 1960s. The major networks have dominated TV from its infancy: CBS, ABC, and NBC.

34 The major network’s audience share has been declining in recent years and the challenge has come form (3) sources: The major network’s audience share has been declining in recent years and the challenge has come form (3) sources: 1. Independent broadcast groups = Fox News 2. Cable broadcasts = CNN 3. Public Broadcasting Service

35 Rank second as the public’s primary source of information about government and politics. Rank second as the public’s primary source of information about government and politics. What advantage does a newspaper have over TV? What advantage does a newspaper have over TV? Stories are covered in greater depth and with various points of view. Stories are covered in greater depth and with various points of view.

36 Most papers are local ones, covering local stories, but technology is changing this with on- line versions of major newspapers available. Most papers are local ones, covering local stories, but technology is changing this with on- line versions of major newspapers available.

37 By the 1930s, the radio was a major entertainment medium and millions of people planned their day around their favorite programs. By the 1930s, the radio was a major entertainment medium and millions of people planned their day around their favorite programs. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first major public figure to use radio effectively. (Fireside chats during the Depression). President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first major public figure to use radio effectively. (Fireside chats during the Depression).

38 Many people felt that the arrival of TV would bring to an end the radio as a major medium, but why has radio survived? Many people felt that the arrival of TV would bring to an end the radio as a major medium, but why has radio survived? Radio is very “convenient” and “available” Radio is very “convenient” and “available”

39 The Progressive Reform era in the early 1900s spawned several journals of opinion, including articles by many leading muckrakers. The Progressive Reform era in the early 1900s spawned several journals of opinion, including articles by many leading muckrakers. 3 news magazines Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report have a combined circulation of 10 million copies a week. 3 news magazines Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report have a combined circulation of 10 million copies a week.

40 Clearly the media play a significant role in American politics, but just how significant that role is, is the subject of long, still unsettled debate. Clearly the media play a significant role in American politics, but just how significant that role is, is the subject of long, still unsettled debate. The media’s influence can be seen most visibly in (2) areas: The media’s influence can be seen most visibly in (2) areas:

41 The media play a large role in shaping the public agenda: The media play a large role in shaping the public agenda: DEFINE: societal problems that the nation’s public leaders and the general public agree need government attention DEFINE: societal problems that the nation’s public leaders and the general public agree need government attention The media determine to a vary large extent what public issues the people will think and talk about. The media determine to a vary large extent what public issues the people will think and talk about. They have power to focus peoples attention on a particular issue. They have power to focus peoples attention on a particular issue.

42 TV has made candidates for office less dependent on political parties because with TV, they can appeal directly to the people. TV has made candidates for office less dependent on political parties because with TV, they can appeal directly to the people. Candidates regularly try to manipulate media coverage to their advantage (most people learn about a candidate from TV). Candidates regularly try to manipulate media coverage to their advantage (most people learn about a candidate from TV).

43 What are sound bites ? What are sound bites ? snappy 30 – 45 seconds reports snappy 30 – 45 seconds reports How do good campaign managers use them? How do good campaign managers use them? Show candidates doing something exciting in a short period of time (News does not want long) Show candidates doing something exciting in a short period of time (News does not want long)

44 A number of built in factors work to limit the media’s impact on the behavior of the American voting public: A number of built in factors work to limit the media’s impact on the behavior of the American voting public: 1. Few people follow national or local political events closely, so few people understand what the media has to say about public affairs

45 2. Most people who pay attention are selective about the media the watch or read What does this mean? What does this mean? They watch what they agree with. They watch what they agree with.

46 3. Most TV programs have little or nothing to do with public affairs, more people are interested in being entertained than being informed. 4. Radio and TV mostly ‘skim’ the news – What does this mean? Not really in depth coverage – just short stories. Not really in depth coverage – just short stories.

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48 Definitionprivate organization that tries to persuade public officials to respond to the shared attitudes of its members Definition: private organization that tries to persuade public officials to respond to the shared attitudes of its members. Also known as Special Interest or Pressure Groups Also known as Special Interest or Pressure Groups

49 Organized efforts to protect group interests are a fundamental part of the democratic process. Organized efforts to protect group interests are a fundamental part of the democratic process. Whatever the call themselves, the interests seek to influence the making and the content of public policy. Whatever the call themselves, the interests seek to influence the making and the content of public policy. Where do these groups operate? Where do these groups operate? Wherever policies are made or can be influenced (basically at every level of government) Wherever policies are made or can be influenced (basically at every level of government)

50 Political parties and Interest groups differ from each other in 3 striking respects: Political parties and Interest groups differ from each other in 3 striking respects: 1. In the making of nominations 2. In their primary focus 3. In the scope of their interests

51 The parties nominate candidates for public office. What would happen if an interest group nominated a candidate? They would become a political party. They would become a political party. Interests groups try to affect the outcomes of primaries and other nominating contests by openly supporting a candidate.

52 Political parties want to win elections and control the government. Political parties want to win elections and control the government. What are interest groups concerned with? What are interest groups concerned with? Influencing or controlling the policies of government Influencing or controlling the policies of government Parties focus on candidates Interest Groups on issues. Parties focus on candidates Interest Groups on issues.

53 Political parties are concerned with the whole range of public affairs, with everything of concern to voters. Political parties are concerned with the whole range of public affairs, with everything of concern to voters. Interest groups always concentrate only on those issues that most directly affect the interests of their members. Interest groups always concentrate only on those issues that most directly affect the interests of their members.

54 What about access to interest groups? What about access to interest groups? They are private organizations and are not accountable to the public. They are private organizations and are not accountable to the public.

55 Do interest groups pose a threat to the well being of the political system… Do interest groups pose a threat to the well being of the political system… Or are they a valuable part of the American political system ? Or are they a valuable part of the American political system ?

56 VALUABLE FUNCTION Help to stimulate public affairs – those issues and events that concern the people at large. Interest groups raise awareness Help to stimulate public affairs – those issues and events that concern the people at large. Interest groups raise awareness of public policy affairs. of public policy affairs. Interest groups have influence far out of proportion with their size or importance/contribution of the public good. Interest groups have influence far out of proportion with their size or importance/contribution of the public good. CRITICISMS

57 VALUABLE FUNCTION Represent their members on the basis of shared attitudes rather than on the basis of geography. Represent their members on the basis of shared attitudes rather than on the basis of geography. Hard to tell just who or how many people a group really represents. Hard to tell just who or how many people a group really represents. CRITICISMS

58 VALUABLE FUNCTION Provide useful, specialized and detailed information on the government. Provide useful, specialized and detailed information on the government. Do not represent the views of all the people whom they claim to speak for. Do not represent the views of all the people whom they claim to speak for. CRITICISMS

59 VALUABLE FUNCTION Interest groups are vehicles for political participation. Interest groups are vehicles for political participation. Some groups use tactics that could undermine the political system: Some groups use tactics that could undermine the political system: Bribery Bribery Revenge Revenge CRITICISMS

60 VALUABLE FUNCTION They add another element to the checks- and-balances feature of the political process. They add another element to the checks- and-balances feature of the political process. They compete with one another in the political arena. They compete with one another in the political arena.

61 The United States has often been called a nation of joiners and no one really knows how many associations exist in the US today. The United States has often been called a nation of joiners and no one really knows how many associations exist in the US today. Interests groups are founded on a variety of ideas: economic (the most), geographic, political, ideological or groups that promote its own welfare. Interests groups are founded on a variety of ideas: economic (the most), geographic, political, ideological or groups that promote its own welfare.

62 Most interest groups are formed on the basis of economic interests or the manner in which people make their living. Most interest groups are formed on the basis of economic interests or the manner in which people make their living.

63 What is the oldest organized interest group still at work today? What is the oldest organized interest group still at work today? US Brewers Association US Brewers Association Most segments of the business community also have their own interest groups called trade associations. Most segments of the business community also have their own interest groups called trade associations. How come these business groups are not always together on issues? How come these business groups are not always together on issues? They often disagree and fight over what the government gives out. They often disagree and fight over what the government gives out.

64 A labor union is an organization of workers who share the same type of job or who work in the same industry. A labor union is an organization of workers who share the same type of job or who work in the same industry. They press the government for policies that will benefit its members. They press the government for policies that will benefit its members. What has happened to the labor recently? What has happened to the labor recently? Membership has been declining in recent years. Membership has been declining in recent years.

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66 Organized labor generally speaks with one voice on such matters as Social Security programs, minimum wages, and unemployment. Organized labor generally speaks with one voice on such matters as Social Security programs, minimum wages, and unemployment. When does labor oppose labor? When does labor oppose labor? White Collar vs Blue Collar White Collar vs Blue Collar Section vs Section Section vs Section Product vs Transportation Product vs Transportation

67 Farmer’s influence on the government’s agricultural policies is and has been enormous. Farmer’s influence on the government’s agricultural policies is and has been enormous.

68 Defined as those occupations that require extensive and specialized training. Defined as those occupations that require extensive and specialized training. How do they compare to the business, labor and farm groups? How do they compare to the business, labor and farm groups? Not nearly as large, well organized, well financed or effective Not nearly as large, well organized, well financed or effective

69 (3) groups are, however, an exception to the rule: (3) groups are, however, an exception to the rule: American Medical Association (AMA) – physicians American Medical Association (AMA) – physicians American Bar Association (ABA) - lawyers American Bar Association (ABA) - lawyers National Education Association (NEA) - teachers National Education Association (NEA) - teachers Each of these organizations has a very real impact on public policies, and at every level of government. Each of these organizations has a very real impact on public policies, and at every level of government.

70 Groups that formed for reasons other than economic concerns also have a great deal of political clout. Groups that formed for reasons other than economic concerns also have a great deal of political clout. A large number of groups exist to promote a cause or an idea; here are some of the major ones: A large number of groups exist to promote a cause or an idea; here are some of the major ones:

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72 A number of interest groups seek to promote the welfare of a certain segment of the population. (Their name usually indicates whom!) A number of interest groups seek to promote the welfare of a certain segment of the population. (Their name usually indicates whom!) VFW (war veterans) VFW (war veterans) NAACP (African Americans NAACP (African Americans AARP (senior citizens) AARP (senior citizens)

73 Religious organizations also try to influence public policy in several important areas. Religious organizations also try to influence public policy in several important areas.

74 Definition: Definition: Interest group that seeks to institute certain public policies of benefit to most or all people. Interest group that seeks to institute certain public policies of benefit to most or all people. Among the best known and most active are Common Cause and several organizations that make up Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Inc. Among the best known and most active are Common Cause and several organizations that make up Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Inc.

75 Interest groups regularly reach out to the public to accomplish one or all of (3) major goals: Interest groups regularly reach out to the public to accomplish one or all of (3) major goals: 1. Supply the public with information an organization thinks the people should have. 2. To build a positive image for the group. 3. To promote a particular public policy

76 Interest groups try to create the public attitudes they want by using propaganda. Interest groups try to create the public attitudes they want by using propaganda. DEFINE propaganda: DEFINE propaganda: Technique of persuading aimed at influencing individual or group behavior. Technique of persuading aimed at influencing individual or group behavior.

77 To be successful, propaganda must be presented in simple, interesting, and credible terms. To be successful, propaganda must be presented in simple, interesting, and credible terms. How do talented propagandists attack a policy they oppose? How do talented propagandists attack a policy they oppose? Attack with name calling or presenting only one side of the issue. Attack with name calling or presenting only one side of the issue.

78 Using symbols (flags, Uncle Sam) and testimonials from TV stars or athletes are often used. Using symbols (flags, Uncle Sam) and testimonials from TV stars or athletes are often used. The bandwagon approach (follow the crowd) or the plain folks approach (pretend to be with common people) are favorite techniques. The bandwagon approach (follow the crowd) or the plain folks approach (pretend to be with common people) are favorite techniques. How is propaganda spread? How is propaganda spread? Newspapers, radio, television, Internet, movies, etc. Newspapers, radio, television, Internet, movies, etc.

79 Leaders of interest groups know that political parties play a central role in selecting those people who make public- policy decisions. Leaders of interest groups know that political parties play a central role in selecting those people who make public- policy decisions. How do interest groups attempt to influence the behavior of political parties How do interest groups attempt to influence the behavior of political parties ? Be active in party affairs or take leadership positions in a party. Be active in party affairs or take leadership positions in a party.

80 An interest group’s election tactics often have to involve some very finely tuned decisions. An interest group’s election tactics often have to involve some very finely tuned decisions. If they support a candidate and that candidate loses, will there be backlash? If they support a candidate and that candidate loses, will there be backlash? How can interest groups help a candidate? How can interest groups help a candidate? Donate money through Political Action Committee’s Donate money through Political Action Committee’s

81 Single-Interest Groups have grown rapidly in the past 20 years. Single-Interest Groups have grown rapidly in the past 20 years. These are PACs that communicate one issue (abortion, gun control, etc) These are PACs that communicate one issue (abortion, gun control, etc) What is the single-interest group’s focus? What is the single-interest group’s focus? Organized or concentrate on ONE ISSUE Organized or concentrate on ONE ISSUE

82 Lobbying is usually defined as those activities by which group pressures are brought to bear on legislators and the legislative process. Lobbying is usually defined as those activities by which group pressures are brought to bear on legislators and the legislative process. Realistically, lobbying includes all of the methods by which group pressures are brought to bear on all aspects of the public policy-making process. Realistically, lobbying includes all of the methods by which group pressures are brought to bear on all aspects of the public policy-making process. Nearly all of the important organized interests have lobbyists in Washington DC. Nearly all of the important organized interests have lobbyists in Washington DC.

83 What is the major task for a lobbyist? What is the major task for a lobbyist? Work for those matters that benefit their clients + against those that may harm them. Work for those matters that benefit their clients + against those that may harm them. A lobbyist’s effectiveness depends in large part on his/her knowledge of the political system – many are former legislatures or lawyers. A lobbyist’s effectiveness depends in large part on his/her knowledge of the political system – many are former legislatures or lawyers.

84 Most lobbyists know how to bring “grass- roots” pressure to bear. Most lobbyists know how to bring “grass- roots” pressure to bear. What are Grassroots? What are Grassroots? Term meaning “of or from the people” Term meaning “of or from the people”

85 Several interests groups publish ratings of members of Congress. Several interests groups publish ratings of members of Congress. These rankings are based on votes cast on measures crucial to their interests. These rankings are based on votes cast on measures crucial to their interests. Use the mass media to publicize these ratings. Use the mass media to publicize these ratings. Why do lobbyists want to be as accurate and honest as possible? Why do lobbyists want to be as accurate and honest as possible? Do not want to damage or destroy their credibility and effectiveness. Do not want to damage or destroy their credibility and effectiveness.

86 Lobbying abuses do occur now and then, false or misleading testimony, bribery and other unethical pressures do happen from time to time. Lobbying abuses do occur now and then, false or misleading testimony, bribery and other unethical pressures do happen from time to time.


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