Presentation on theme: "American Political Culture and Public Opinion"— Presentation transcript:
1 American Political Culture and Public Opinion American political ideology(10-20% of Exam)
2 We are unique!!Alexis de Tocqueville saw many reasons why democracy took hold in the US“the fertile soil in which the roots (of democracy) could grow”No feudal aristocracy-low taxes-few legal restraintsWestward expansion-vast territory provided opportunitiesNation of small independent farmersOur moral and intellectual characteristics
3 What is political culture? It is defined as a universally accepted way of thinking about how politics and government ought to be carried out
4 Our view of what’s important Liberty (our rights)Equality (equal vote and opportunity)Democracy (government accountability)Civic duty (being involved)Individual responsibility (for your own actions and well-being)
5 How do we know???Before polls, people looked at books, speeches and political choicesPolls and personality tests show we share these beliefs and other nations don’t!!
6 What of economics?Americans support free enterprise but also place limits on that freedomBelieve in equality of opportunity but not equality of resultsAnd we share a commitment to economic individualism
7 More…Americans lag behind Europeans in voter turnout but not in other forms of participationAmericans have more confidence in their governmentWe acknowledge our flaws but still are “very proud” of our national identity and would be more willing “to fight” for our country in the event of war (See table 4.2 on pg 83)
8 Econ, religion and politics Americans favor economic freedom and value hard workWe are more “religious” than EuropeansChurches are a major source of volunteerismReligious beliefs have played an important role in US politics and everyone uses the pulpit to promote politicsCandidates and religion go hand in hand here
9 Background? How about home! So where do these beliefs come from?#1 place – the family instills the ways we think about the world and politics!!!!!Our kids have greater freedom and there is equality among family membersThis leads to a belief in rights and acceptance of diverse views in decision makingWe are not so class conscious –we consider ourselves middleclass and success is there forthose who work hard!!
10 The war over “values”… We clash over values The war over cultural values reflectsour deep differences in beliefs aboutprivate and public morality – standards that ought to govern individual behavior and social arrangementsThere are two “camps” on this issue…
11 Did you say “camps”? Yes I did… Orthodox believes that morality is as, or more, important than self expression and morality derives from the fixed rules of GodProgressive believes that personal freedom is as, or more, important than traditional rules and beliefs are based on circumstances of modern life and personal preferencesAlso associated with “liberal” and “conservative” viewpoints…
12 They lied!!The mistrust of government has increased dramatically since the 1950sThat mistrust is directed at officials within the government, not the governmental system!!!WatergateVietnamClintonWhy such a change? Perhaps our naïve view of government in the 50s, fewer ways to express patriotism in the 60s and 70s??
13 Political efficacy…Internal efficacy – the ability to understand and take part in politics (do I or can I make a difference)External efficacy – the willingness of the state to respond to the citizenry (does anyone care about me)External has dropped sharply since the 1960 while internal efficacy has remained constant –In other words, we believe in our governmental system but don’t think they believe in us…
14 Political tolerance (or lack of) Americans are steadily becoming more tolerant in generalStill, many believe we are too tolerant of harmful behaviors and they tend to defend common moral standards over protecting individual rightsDemocracy is willing to defend a persons right to speak, even if what they say offends you to the core… a tough dilemma, huh??
15 Unpopular groups? Unpopular groups survive for several reasons Most don’t act on their beliefsUsually no consensus on whom to persecuteOffice holders and activists are more tolerant than the general publicCourts are sufficiently insulated from public opinion to enforce constitutional protectionsIn other words, they’re there and they’re not going away, sorry…
16 Public Opinion Public opinion is simply defined: How do people feel about particular things, food, clothing, sports, weather, stuff like thatMost people don’t spend much time thinking about politicsThis leads to a high level of public ignoranceStill people are really good at picking out clues to figure out what candidates reflect their interests or values with limited information!!
17 Our opinions come from????Family – recently youngsters tending to be independent – no clear ideologyReligion – very complicated but most pronounced regarding social issuesGender – men more Republican, women Democrats and big differences on gun control, size of gov’t, social programs and gay rightsSchool – college students used to be more liberal, not now, less involved and tend to read less
18 What tears us apart?Social classes are less important in US than Europe but still existNon-economic issues now define liberal and conservative more than money didRace and ethnicity – differences between blacks and whites narrowing but still concerns of discriminationHispanics tend to be Democrats but not as much as African-AmericansAsians tend to be more Republican than whites
19 We are complex!!No easy differentiation between liberals and conservativesPure liberals – Pure conservatives – libertarians – populistsAll deal with economic and social issuesPure liberals – liberal on economic and socialPure conservatives – conservative on bothLibertarians – conservative economics, liberal socialPopulists – liberal economic, conservative social
20 Polls and what to look for Scientific polls are worthy of covering, un-scientific are entertaining but useless (Gallup)Who did the poll?Who paid for it and why?How many people were questions?How were they chosen?What area, nation, state or region – or what group, teachers, lawyers, Democrats?
21 More on polls… Are results based on answers? When was the poll done? How were the questions asked – phone, mail or in person and were the questions “weighted” to force a desired response?In what order were the questions asked?Was the poll part of a fund-raiser?
22 Terms to knowUniversal sample – means the whole population the poll aims to measureRandom sample – anyone is a part of itQuota sample – looking for a specific audienceSampling error – reflects the difference in results of two pollsExit poll – done on election day as people leave the pollsYou must ask people to get a +/- 3% sampling error or the poll is invalid
23 Who REALLY participates? Different factors can tell us who votesEducation – MOST IMPORTANT, more education=more votingReligious involvementRace and Ethnicity – Whites higher than minorities (might be economic based)Age – is the lowest, and 45 and up is the highest
24 Who REALLY participates? Gender – men traditionally voted more, now it is more equalTwo-party competition – more competitive elections have higher turnoutCross-cutting cleavages – individuals influenced by many factors, it is important when testing for this that variables are controlled
25 Which of the following best describes the concept of political efficacy? a. It is the belief that the average citizen can make little or no difference in an election.b. It is the belief that an intelligent voting decision cannot be made without information.c. It is the belief that the media must provide unbiased information for citizens to be able to make well-informed choices.d. It is the belief that one can make a difference in politics by expressing an opinion and acting politically.e. It is the belief that politicians must keep the electorate well-informed if they are to govern efficiently.
26 According to the information in the table above, which of the following statements is correct? a. Students who identify themselves as independents are the most likely to have parents who are republicans.b. Of the three groups of parents, the democrats are the most likely to pass on their party identification to their children.c. Student who identify with the democratic party are more likely to have parents who are republicans than parents who are independents.d. The children of republicans are less likely to identify as independents than are the children of democrats.e. Parents who are independents are the least likely to have children who share their party identification.
27 During the past twenty-five years, all of the following changes in public opinion and political behavior have occurred in the US EXCEPT:a. a decline in party competition in the Southb. a decline in the level of trust in governmentc. a drop in voter turnoutd. an increase in ticket-splittinge. an erosion of party loyalties, especially among young people
28 American political culture is characterized by strong popular support for all of the following EXCEPT:a. the rule of lawb. limited governmentc. individual libertyd. equality of opportunitye. economic equality
29 The most common form of political activity undertaken by US citizens is a. lobbying to influence decisions by public officialsb. campaigning for candidates for officesc. contributing money to a political partyd. voting in local electionse. voting in presidential elections
30 Expanding SuffrageLifting of property restrictions (1830) – “universal manhood suffrage” gave voting rights to all white malesSuffrage for African-Americans ( )th Amendment – Voting Rights to allBrown v. Board – separate but equal is illegal, killed Jim Crow lawsth Amendment – banned poll tax1965 – Voting Rights Act of 1965 – federal law prohibited (no literacy tests, fair elections etc.)
31 Expanding SuffrageWomen’s Suffrage (1920) – 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote18-21 year-olds (1971) – 26th Amendment, sparked by Vietnam
32 Voter Turnout Registered Voter turnout Eligible Voter turnout Voter Registration – blamed as one of the causes of low turnout“Motor-Voter” (1993) – National Voter Registration Act – allowed people to register to vote while they get license
33 Other reasons for low turnout Difficulty of Absentee VotingNumber of Offices to Elect too highWeekday, non-holiday votingWeak political parties – less “get-out-the-vote campaigns
34 Public OpinionThe distribution of individual attitudes about a particular issue, candidate, political institution, etc.
35 Early Efforts to Influence and Measure Public Opinion Public opinion polling began in the 1930sBut, as early as 1824, people were trying to predict the outcome of political races using pollsLiterary Digest used straw polls (unofficial ballots) which have since proven problematicThe American Voter was published in 1960 and continues to influence the way we think of mass attitudes and behaviors
36 George Gallup Developed “Gallup Polls” Started in 1932 1st “pollster” Since 1936, agency has picked one general election result incorrect1948 Harry S. Truman was behindin the Presidential race and Gallupstopped polling 2 weeks before the race, pickingThomas Dewey to win and thewinner was…
37 Sampling Representative – must mirror population you want answer about Random – give everyone an equal possibility of being sampledWording – questions can’t be leadingStraw poll – poor polling technique
38 Political Socialization Factors that influence a person’s opinionPeople in different social “groups” tend to share certain opinions: group identification
39 Family #1 influence of political attitude Very strong correlation for Political Party support
40 Gender Examples More men support military More women consider sexual harassment a serious problemSince ’60s, women vote Dem more than men, and vice versaNot as significant of an indicator as marriage (married vs. unmarried)
41 ReligionExampleProtestants are more conservative on economic matters than Catholics or JewsJews tend to be liberal on economic and social issues than Catholics or ProtestantsCatholics tend to be more liberal on economic issues than they are on social issues (Catholics becoming more conservative)
42 Education Example Higher Education = more conservative College education = liberal viewsConflicting results, not always a correlation
43 Social Class “Blue collar” (Laborer) typically Democrat “White collar” (Businessmen) typically RepublicanRelationship is becoming less clear
44 Race and Ethnicity Examples African Americans – 90% Democrats Hispanic Americans – tend to affiliate with DemocratsAsian Americans – less liberal than Hispanic Americans or African Americans, but still consistently vote DemocratWhite, more divided, fluctuates by election
45 Geographic Region Example East and West Coasts – more liberal Mid-West – more conservativeUrban - liberalSouth – s - Democrat “Solid South” but today they are primarily social conservativesWhite Southerner always less liberal
46 Political IdeologyCoherent set of values and beliefs about public policyChanges over time for all peopleLiberal and conservative mean different things at different time periods
47 What Americans Value: Political Ideologies Who Are the Liberals and Conservatives?Views change over timePerfect example…BOTH democrats and republicans claim that Thomas Jefferson is the founder of their political party WHY?Currently about 37% conservative, 23% liberal, 40% moderate
48 How ideological are Americans? 1950 study – “The American Voter”4 basic types of voterIdeologues – 12% of people connect their opinions to party linesGroup Benefits Voter – 42% of people connect their opinion to their “group”. (labor union, interest group, class, race)
49 How ideological are Americans? 3. Nature of the times voter – 24% of the people linked good or bad times to the party in control and vote the opposite (usually based on economics).4. No Issue Content – 22% of the people could give no reason
50 How Americans Participate in Politics Political Participation:All the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue.Conventional ParticipationVoting in electionsWorking in campaigns / running for officeContacting elected officials
51 How Americans Participate in Politics Protest as ParticipationProtest: A form of political participation designed to achieve policy changes through dramatic and unconventional tactics.Civil disobedience: A form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
52 Which of the following best describes the relationship between socio-economic status and participation in politics?a. The lower one’s socioeconomic status, the more likely it is that one will run for public office.b. The higher one’s socioeconomic status, the greater the probability of active involvement in the political process.c. Adults who are unemployed have a greater personal interest in policy and tend to participate more actively in politics than do employed adults.d. People in the lower middle class are the most likely to participate in politics.e. There is no relationship between socioeconomic status and political participation.
53 Between 1964 and 1984, which of the following would have been most likely to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate?a. A Cuban-American business executive from Miamib. A Black teacher from Los Angelesc. A White doctor from Atlantad. A Polish-American truck driver from Phoenixe. A Methodist farmer from Iowa
54 Registered voters directly elect which of the following? I. The President and Vice PresidentII. Supreme Court JusticesIII. Members of the SenateIV. Members of the House of Representativesa. I onlyb. IV onlyc. I and II onlyd. III and IV onlye. II, III and IV only
55 The main intent of “motor voter” laws is to a. increase voter registrationb. increase voter turnout by providing transportation to polls for people without carsc. increase the rate at which incumbents are reelected to officed. prevent states from using literacy requirements for votinge. allow sixteen year olds to vote if they have a valid driver’s license
56 Political socialization is the process by which a. the use of private property is regulated by the governmentb. governments communicate with each otherc. public attitudes toward government are measured and reportedd. political values are passed to the next generatione. children are trained for successful occupations