Presentation on theme: "Public Opinion, Political Participation, & Voting CH. 8"— Presentation transcript:
1Public Opinion, Political Participation, & Voting CH. 8
2Public OpinionDescribes what the population thinks about politics and government
3Why is it important1. Citizen action-opinion drives voting, contributing to campaigns, writing letters to senators and other activism2. Determines campaign strategies, how members of Congress vote, influences Supreme Court(delayed effect)3. Sheds light on why policy shifts over the course of time
4The Population: The relevant group of people for the question Consensus: occurs when a substantial percentage of a sample agree on an issuePolarization: occurs when a large portion of opposing sides feels intensely about an issue
5Public Opinion Taking the pulse of the people Intensity Latency Salience
6Public OpinionDefinition: distribution of individual preferences or evaluations of a given issue, candidate or institution.Distribution-the proportion of the population that holds one opinion or viewpoint as compared to those with opposing opinions or those with no opinion at all
7Taking the Pulse of the People Keys1. proper sampling-a random choice of an appropriate set of people2. art of asking questions-wording of question, questions are pretested, questioner trained—no voice intonations3. Thorough analysis and reporting of results, accuracy, validated sample size, margin of error
8Intensity-how strongly people feel about a candidate, issue or policy Latency-political opinions that exist merely as potential—(haven’t crystallized)—more concerned with personal issues than national issuesSalience-extent to which people feel issues are relevant to them
9Agents of Political Socialization FamilySchoolsMass MediaReligionEthnic and racial attitudes
10How we acquire political opinions Political Socialization-process by which we develop our political attitudes, values and beliefsNationalism—a consciousness of the nation-state and of belonging to that entity is a common element of political socializationImportance of group affiliation vs. individual
11Sources of Political Socialization Family: (parent-child similarity) disagreements between youth’s parents and friendsSchools: higher education and political correctness
12Sources… continued Mass Media— wide exposure to newspapers, Internet, movies, TVWhy is media influential?media provides “link between individuals and values/behavior of others”
13Public Opinion and Public Policy Public opinion change can lead to policy change(Vietnam, Gulf War)Elected officials seek to follow public policy opinionCandidates use polls to determine where and how to campaignPolitical polls are no substitute for elections
14Awareness and Interest Varying levels of interest in politicsAttentive public-25% of American public…tend to be better educated.Nonvoters-35% “political do-nothings”Part-time citizensOnly 60% of Americans can name one U.S. Senator
15Participation: from opinion to action Influence government in what ways?#1 way--Voting, joining interest groups, writing letters, calls, etc.Totalitarian society-participation is very limitedEven in a democracy, people may fight rather than accept election(U.S. Civil War)Routine participation-National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, jury duty
16Politics is a private matter in America Less than one person in four attempts to influence another person’s voteOnly one in 20 make a contribution to a candidate; only one in six designates taxes to presidential fund
17Registration Voter registration discourages voting Australian ballot: secret response to multiple votingRegistration laws vary by stateOnly North Dakota does not require registrationMost important provision of voter registration is the closing date-No state can stop registration more than 30 days before an election
18Motor Voter1. Allows people to register when applying for a renewal of driver’s license2. States can also use schools/libraries/city/county offices as registration sites3. states can permit mail registration4. Most registered claim to be independent which benefits neither party5. Does not appear to have increased turnout
19Turnout Turnout is highest in presidential election Turnout is higher in general elections than in primary elections and higher in primary elections than in special elections
20Turnout continuedTurnout is higher in presidential general elections than in midterm general elections and higher presidential primary elections than in midterm primary electionsTurnout is higher in elections in which candidates for federal office are on the ballot than in state elections in years when there are no federal contests
21Turnout continuedLocal or municipal elections have lower turnout than state elections and municipal primaries have even lower rates of participationIn 1960, turnout peaked at almost 65 percent of persons over 21 years of age, has since declined to 36% in 1998 and 51% in 2000
22Why is turnout so low?1. Voter registration appears to be the major block to voting2. Too young; election did not seem important; disinterested in candidates; inconvenient3. American parties are too weak-nonvoter had no contact with party
23Who Votes?1. Education level-as education level increases, so does voting2. Race and ethnic background-blacks vote at lower rates than whites, women voters exceed that of men3. Income and age-those with higher family income, higher-status careers, older…more likely to vote18-24 year olds least likely to vote/also over 70
24How serious is nonvoting? If people are too lazy to vote, maybe they shouldn’tSome say a serious issue-”class bias”The poor are not representedBut nonvoters are not more egalitarian or in favor of government ownershipLower voter turnout could be seen as approval
25Nonvoting continued…If large nonvoting population were to turnout to vote it could shift balance of powerNeed for electoral reform after 2000 election, ensure fair voting(machines) accuracy, concerns about the media projecting winners before the polls close.
26Nonvoters Millions of Americans do not vote when elections are held. Only 50.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2000 presidential election, and only 46.3 percent of the electorate voted for the members of the House of Representatives.Voter turnout significantly decreases in off-year elections, congressional elections held in years when there is no presidential election.
27Why People Do Not VoteSome people cannot vote for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, unexpected travel, and resident alien citizenship status.However, most nonvoters do not vote becausevoting is in some way inconvenient,they do not believe that their vote will make a difference, orthey distrust politics and political candidates.
28Voters and Voting Behavior Voting is studied more than any other form of political participation in the United States. We learn about voting behavior from:The results of elections—information can be gleaned by studying the results of confidential voting compared to the population make-up of a particular sectorThe field of survey research—data can be gathered by conducting polls across specific cross sections of the population, as the Gallup Organization doesStudies of political socialization—studying political socialization, the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions, can also be useful in predicting voting behavior
29Sociological FactorsVoter preferences can’t be predicted by just one sociological factor. Voter opinion is a combination of all of these factors and more.
30Psychological Factors Voters’ perceptions of their party, the candidates, and the issuessignificantly affects their voting.Candidates and IssuesCandidates and issues are two short-term factors that can influence even the most loyal Democrat or Republican.People may vote out of their chosen party if they dislike a candidate or the party’s stand on a particular issue.Party IdentificationThe loyalty of people to a particular political party is a lasting predictor of how a person will vote.
31Voting Choices Voting on the Basis of Party Voting on the Basis of CandidatesVoting on the Basis of Issues
32Voting Based on PartyParty Identification-affiliation with a party, longstanding loyaltyEven increase in independents, 2/3 of indep. Are in fact partisan in their behavior, reinforcing the importance of partisanshipParty identification more stable than attitudes about issues or candidates
33Voting on the basis of candidates American electoral politics is in a candidate-centered era. Likeable, who looks good, who is more personableCandidate appeal often on character (Reagan, Eisenhower)Increasingly, campaigns focus on negative elements, attacks on stands on abortion, fundraisingAttacked for dishonesty, trustworthiness
34Voting on basis of issues Important but not as central as partisanship and candidate appealWhy?Candidates often conceal real position on issuesVoting on issues basis presumes a level of interest in issues that only a few voters have
35Retrospective voting more likely than prospective voting Prospective voting-voting based on what a candidate promises if electedRetrospective voting- voting based on what a candidate’s past performance or candidate’s party’s record of performance
36Voting on Issues continued... State of economy often crucial to candidate’s electionUsually, voters vote against party in power if personal finances have worsenedDemocrats focused on issues in 1998 and picked up 5 seats in House; GOP use of impeachment issue did not resonate with voters
39Nonvoters Millions of Americans do not vote when elections are held. Only 50.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2000 presidential election, and only 46.3 percent of the electorate voted for the members of the House of Representatives.Voter turnout significantly decreases in off-year elections, congressional elections held in years when there is no presidential election.
40Why People Do Not VoteSome people cannot vote for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, unexpected travel, and resident alien citizenship status.However, most nonvoters do not vote becausevoting is in some way inconvenient,they do not believe that their vote will make a difference, orthey distrust politics and political candidates.Chapter 6, Section 4
41Voters and Voting Behavior Voting is studied more than any other form of political participation in the United States. We learn about voting behavior from:The results of elections—information can be gleaned by studying the results of confidential voting compared to the population make-up of a particular sectorThe field of survey research—data can be gathered by conducting polls across specific cross sections of the population, as the Gallup Organization doesStudies of political socialization—studying political socialization, the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions, can also be useful in predicting voting behavior
42The History of Voting Rights The Framers of the Constitution purposely left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State.Suffrage means the right to vote. Franchise is another term with the same meaning.The electorate is all of the people entitled to vote in a given election.Initially, the right to vote in America was limited to white male property owners.Today, the size of the American electorate is greater than 200 million people. Nearly all citizens at least 18 years of age can qualify to vote.234Chapter 6, Section 1