Presentation on theme: "10 Public Opinion and Political Socialization"— Presentation transcript:
110 Public Opinion and Political Socialization Pollsters use Google search results to track interest in the 2012 presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
210Learning ObjectivesTrace the development of modern public opinion research10.1Describe the methods for conducting and analyzing different types of public opinion polls10.2The Founders of the country recognized that “all government rests on public opinion.” In this chapter, we’ll learn the process of political socialization, which describes how Americans form their values and beliefs about politics. Pollsters and politicians take frequent polls to measure what Americans think about policies, even though most Americans have little knowledge about complex political matters.Still, as we we’ll learn in this chapter, public opinion has a critical influence on what politicians do and say.
310 Learning Objectives Assess the potential shortcomings of polling 10.3Analyze the process by which people form political opinions10.4
410Learning ObjectivesEvaluate the effects of public opinion on politics10.5
5Roots of Public Opinion Research 10.1Roots of Public Opinion ResearchThe Earliest Public Opinion ResearchThe Gallup OrganizationThe National Election StudiesPublic opinion is what the public thinks about an issue or a particular set of issues. Polls are used to estimate public opinion.Almost since the beginning of the United States, various attempts have been made to influence public opinion about particular issues or to sway elections. Presidential polling has been around since 1916, and George Gallup was the first to use scientific polling methods to determine public opinion.
6The Earliest Public Opinion Research 10.1The Earliest Public Opinion ResearchPolling to predict winner of electionsPolling to discover public opinionsWalter Lippmann’s Public OpinionLiterary DigestStraw pollSampleAs early as 1883, Americans used polling to try to predict the winners of presidential elections. But public opinion research didn’t really emerge as a science until the 1930s, following the publication of Walter Lippmann’s book Public Opinion in As political scientists gained interest in public opinion in politics and other walks of life, different methods to capture it were tried. The survey was the primary method.The popular magazine Literary Digest was a pioneer in the use of the straw poll, an unscientific survey used to gauge public opinion, with initial success. That success ran out, however, when the magazine in 1936 predicted the defeat of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who actually won in a landslide. It later became clear that the upper middle class had been overrepresented in the sample of Americans the magazine had surveyed.
710.1 Is polling always accurate? Not only did advance polls in 1948 predict the Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey would defeat Democratic incumbent President Harry S Truman, but on the basis of early and incomplete vote tallies, some newspapers’ early editions published the day after the election declared Dewey the winner. In this photo, a triumphant Truman holds aloft the Chicago Daily Tribune.
810.1 FIGURE 10.1: How successful has the Gallup Poll been? Figure 10.1 shows how close the Gallup Organization has come to predicting the outcome of presidential elections since 1936.
910.1 Which term describes the people who are polled? SurveyStraw pollSampleRegistered votersLet’s take a minute to answer this review question about polls.
1010.1 Which term describes the people who are polled? SurveyStraw pollSampleRegistered votersAs pollsters learned in the 1936 election, it is important to make the sample for a survey as representative of the whole population as possible.
11Conducting and Analyzing Public Opinion Polls 10.2Conducting and Analyzing Public Opinion PollsDesigning the Survey and SampleContacting RespondentsAnalyzing the DataThose who conduct polls must first determine what questions they want answered and how to phrase those questions. Then they must determine the sample, or subset, of the group whose attitudes they wish to measure. Finally, they have to figure out how to contact respondents. The different types of polls include telephone polls, in-person interviews, and Internet polls. And once the results are in, they must be analyzed.
12Designing the Survey and Sample 10.2Designing the Survey and SampleDetermining the content and phrasing of the questionsWording is crucial“Push polls”Selecting the samplePopulationRandom samplingStratified samplingBefore pollsters can ask anyone anything, they must ask themselves a number of critical questions first. When it comes to the content and phrasing of the poll, special care must be taken in constructing the question; differently phrased questions could lead to different answers.Especially in politics, sometimes the intent of the poll is to skew the results by negatively phrasing the question. These are called push polls, and they might ask a respondent: “If you knew Candidate X beat his wife, would you vote for him?” Reputable pollsters avoid push polls.Once the questions are selected, pollsters must determine the population whose attitudes they want to gauge. If it’s simply the population at large, pollsters might use a random sampling. If they’re looking at specifics in income, family size, or ethnicity, they might use stratified sampling, which is based on U.S. Census data that provide the number of residences in an area and their location.
13Contacting Respondents 10.2Contacting RespondentsTelephone pollsRandom digit dialing surveyWhat’s the 21st Century issue with this?Despite the increase in cell phones and decrease in landlines, telephone polling is still the chief form of polling used in surveys, especially during campaign season. The most common type of telephone poll is the random digit dialing survey, in which a computer selects a phone number for dialing.
14How are polls conducted? 10.2How are polls conducted?Telephone polls are the most common type of poll. This photograph shows survey researchers who work at a phone bank.
15Contacting Respondents 10.2Contacting RespondentsTelephone pollsTracking pollsSometimes campaigns use tracking polls, in which a small sample of people are polled every 24 hours. These allow campaigns to measure short-term developments and the effects of certain campaign strategies.
1610.2 FIGURE 10.2: What does a daily tracking poll look like? Figure 10.2 shows the day-to-day fluctuations in public opinion on electoral contests.
17Contacting Respondents 10.2Contacting RespondentsIn-person interviewsExit pollsInternet pollsScientific polls versus unscientific Web pollsSome polls, however, such as the American National Election Studies, use in-person interviews. The most common of these types of polls are the exit polls that are conducted as citizens emerge from voting on Election Day.Finally, there are Internet polls. Some polling companies have devised scientific strategies to ensure that the results of Internet polling are legitimate, but they aren’t to be confused with so-called Web polls that allow anyone to weigh in on a topic.
1810.2Analyzing the DataReveals implications for public policy and political campaignsData analyzed by computersSubgroups of population, such as men versus women, age groups, or political ideology, may be analyzedReporting the dataNews organizations or campaignsData gathered from the poll must be analyzed for meaning. This step reveals the implications of the data for public policy or for political campaigns. The data are crunched by computers, which may further break down the information by subgroups. This allows campaigns to see how their candidate is faring among women versus men, or in a certain age group.Once the data have been analyzed, the results are generally reported. This could be done by the media or directly by a campaign.
1910.2 Which type of poll is designed to give a skewed result? Push pollStraw pollTracking pollStratified samplingHere’s another review question about polling.
2010.2 Which type of poll is designed to give a skewed result? Push pollStraw pollTracking pollStratified samplingPush polls are intended to give some negative information about a candidate’s opponent to push people away from voting for the opponent and toward the other candidate.
21Shortcomings of Polling 10.3Shortcomings of PollingSurvey ErrorLimited Response OptionsLack of InformationDifficulty in Measuring IntensityLack of Interest in Political IssuesPolls may have several shortcomings that create inaccuracies. These include:• survey errors• not having enough respondent options to reflect public opinion on an issue• polling those who lack the information necessary to accurately respond• the inability to measure the intensity of public opinion on an issue• the public’s lack of interest in political issues
22Survey Error 10.3 Margin of error Sampling error Natural errors in statistical measurementSampling errorHappens when a pollster draws an improper sampleBecause polls are based on a sample that’s intended to reflect the general public, the results are close but not exact. Polls allow for a margin of error. Typically, the margin of error in a sample of 1,000 people is plus or minus about 4%. So if 52% of the people in a sample of 1,000 say they plan to vote for Candidate X, pollsters can predict that between 48 to 56 people support this candidate.Another type of survey error is the sampling error. This occurs when pollsters fail to sample all elements of a population. For example, the poor and the homeless are generally underrepresented in polls.
23Limited Response Option 10.3Limited Response OptionYes/No (Approve/Disapprove)May not give respondents sufficient room to answer“Feeling thermometer”Respondents rate feelings 0-100There are problems with limited response options in polls. Respondents who feel very strongly about an issue or are somewhat neutral about it may not be able to adequately—or accurately—respond to a poll that offers only yes/no or approve/disapprove options.For that reason, some pollsters—including the American National Election Studies—use a feeling thermometer style of question, in which respondents rate from 0 to 100 their feeling on a given prompt.
2410.3 Can polls measure intensity of opinion? One of the greatest shortcomings of many public opinion polls is that they measure direction of public opinion, but not intensity. Here, members of the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrates intense opposition to homosexuality by protesting at a military funeral.
25Lack of Interest in Political Issues 10.3Lack of Interest in Political IssuesMany people lack an opinion on certain policiesPolicies that don’t affect people directlyPolicies that don’t involve moral valuesForeign policyLess likely to generate interestDomestic policyMore likely to generate interestMany people have a difficult time forming an opinion on policies that don’t appear to affect them directly or aren’t connected to a moral value question. This is especially true with Americans and foreign policy. Domestic policies, such as those affecting health care, bank bailouts and employment are more likely to generate Americans’ interest.
2610.310.3 Which of these can be a problem in designing, executing, or analyzing the results of a poll?Lack of interest in political issuesDifficulty in measuring intensityLimited response optionsSurvey errorAll of the abovePolls aren’t perfect. Can you answer this review question about polling problems?
2710.310.3 Which of these can be a problem in designing, executing, or analyzing the results of a poll?Lack of interest in political issuesDifficulty in measuring intensityLimited response optionsSurvey errorAll of the aboveAll of the responses can be a problem when designing, executing, and analyzing the results of a poll.
28Forming Political Opinions 10.4Forming Political OpinionsDemographic CharacteristicsFamily, Peers, and SchoolThe Mass MediaCues from Leaders or Opinion MakersPolitical KnowledgeThe first step in forming opinions occurs through a process known as political socialization. Demographic characteristics—including gender, race, ethnicity, age, and religion—as well as family, school, and peers, all affect how we view political events and issues. The views of other people, the media, and cues from leaders and opinion makers also influence our ultimate opinions about political matters.
29Demographic Characteristics 10.4Demographic CharacteristicsGenderWomen historically more liberal than menThe process through which people acquire their beliefs and political values is called political socialization, and demographics can play a key role.Gender is significant; historically, women have been more liberal than men. Women are more likely to have positive views of educational or environmental programs and negative views toward war and military intervention.
3010.4TABLE 10.1: Do men and women think differently about political issues?This table breaks down how men and women tend to think about certain political issues.
31Demographic Characteristics 10.4Demographic CharacteristicsRace and ethnicityDifferences among and within races and ethnicitiesAge affects political socializationReligion shapes political beliefsThe views of African Americans and Hispanics on a variety of issues are often quite different from those of whites, particularly when it comes to the environment and health care.Older people support programs like Medicare, while younger voters tend to resist higher taxes to pay for it. Conversely, older people tend to resist increases in taxes to pay for schools.And religion is unquestionably a factor in political view formation, especially on hot-button social issues like abortion rights.
32Family, Peers, and School 10.4Family, Peers, and SchoolFamily influenceChildren learn political beliefs at early agePeers are influential in middle or high schoolPolitical socialization in schoolYoung children begin absorbing political views from their parents an an early age. As they grow into their elementary and middle school years, children become more influenced by their peers. Groups such as the Girl Scouts of America recognize the power of peers and have developed programs to give girls a favorable view of politics. Schools also play a significant role in political socialization. Public school students may start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. In college, students are taught critical thinking skills to help them hone their political views.Activity: Ask your students to consider the role of schools as agents of political socialization. Have them identify the numerous ways in which schools socialize children politically. Examples might include the pledge of allegiance, education about our political system, the inculcation of patriotism and nationalism, and so on.
3310.4How do you encourage young women to think about careers in politics?This photograph shows members of a Girl Scout troop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Girl Scouts has started a program, Ms. President, to encourage girls to think about public service. How else can we encourage women to think about careers in politics?
3410.4FIGURE 10.3: What are the ideological identifications of first-year college students?Nearly a majority of first-year college students describe themselves as middle of the road. The percentage of students identifying as conservative or liberal has remained relatively consistent since the 1990s. Liberal and far left students make up slightly higher proportions of first-year students than do conservatives.34
35The Mass Media 10.4 Traditional news sources Nontraditional news media Americans are turning away from themNontraditional news mediaTalk radio, online magazines, blogsCable and InternetOften skewedInstead of using news broadcasts on the major networks and daily newspapers as the major source of information, Americans are turning to TV talk shows, talk radio, online magazines, and blogs.Cable and Internet news sources are often skewed. According to one study, Americans who get most of their news from cable news outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC are less knowledgeable about political issues than people who don’t pay attention to political news.
36Cues from Leaders or Opinion Makers 10.4Cues from Leaders or Opinion MakersPolitical leaders use media to influence publicPresident uses media as a bully pulpitPolitical leaders use the media to influence the political views of Americans. One of the reasons Americans may be swayed with relatively little effort is the general lack of deep conviction with which most Americans hold many of their political beliefs. And though the president may not be the influencer-in-chief, he can be very persuasive on political matters by using his “bully pulpit.”
3710.4Political KnowledgePolitical knowledge and political participationHave a reciprocal effect on each otherAmericans’ level of civic knowledgeLower than 50 years agoPolitical knowledge and political participation go hand in hand. Without knowledge about the political system, people can’t effectively participate. The more they participate, the greater their understanding about public affairs.Most Americans have a low level of civic knowledge—lower, in fact, than it was 50 years ago. How do you respond to college students today knowing less about civics than high school students did 50 years ago? Americans know even less about foreign policy and geography.
3810.4 TABLE 10.2: What is the extent of Americans’ political knowledge? This table notes the percentage of Americans who can’t identify the majority party in the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House, the British Prime Minister, a photo of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, or Israel on a map.Activity: Public opinion surveys consistently reveal an astounding lack of public knowledge about politics. Ask your students to discuss whether the American political system is affected by such a low level of public information.
39Political Knowledge 10.4 Gender gap Also affected by education, number of children, and marital statusAnd there’s a gender gap. Women know less than men about politics, unless the issues are of special interest to women. Political knowledge is also affected by factors such as education, number of children, and marital status.
4010.410.4 The process by which individuals develop their political views is called:Communication and receptivityPublic educationPolitical socializationCivic knowledgeCan you answer this review question about where people’s political views come from?
4110.410.4 The process by which individuals develop their political views is called:Communication and receptivityPublic educationPolitical socializationCivic knowledgePolitical socialization is the development of one’s political views and values. It begins at home with parents and continues in school. Parental influence begins to wane when peer pressure increases in middle school and high school.
42Toward Reform: The Effects of Public Opinion on Politics 10.5Toward Reform: The Effects of Public Opinion on PoliticsPublic has become more of a critical player in national and international politicsPolling a key part of that involvementPoliticians pay close attention to public opinion. They tailor their campaigns or drive policy decisions based on what they know about the public’s views. This makes the public much more of a critical player in national and international policy. Focus on public opinion is due in part to the rise in the number of polls being conducted, analyzed, and reported. Political scientists say this shows how the public’s views, registered through public opinion polls, can affect policy.
4310.510.5 The influence of public opinion in politics has increased over the past 30 years due largely to:The increase in Americans’ civic knowledgeThe increase in alternative political news sourcesThe increase in the number of pollsThe decrease in traditional mass mediaWe’ve discussed the influence of public opinion in the U.S. Now answer this review question on the subject.
4410.510.5 The influence of public opinion in politics has increased over the past 30 years due largely to:The increase in Americans’ civic knowledgeThe increase in alternative political news sourcesThe increase in the number of pollsThe decrease in traditional mass mediaPolitical scientists attribute the rise in influence of public opinion to the increase in the number of polls.
4510Discussion QuestionsWhat role do polls play in policy making? Should public opinion be considered when the government makes policy decisions? How much influence should public opinion have?
4610Video: So What?Does a good president listen to his people or to his principles? Author Larry J. Sabato discusses why presidents sometimes need to choose their gut over public opinion—especially because figuring out what the public wants is never an exact science.