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Chapter 7: Public Opinion. What is public opinion? How does the US government gauge it? A.If government can gauge opinion, why doesn’t it do what people.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7: Public Opinion. What is public opinion? How does the US government gauge it? A.If government can gauge opinion, why doesn’t it do what people."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 7: Public Opinion

2 What is public opinion? How does the US government gauge it? A.If government can gauge opinion, why doesn’t it do what people want? 1.Examples: 1.Examples: Balanced budget, opposition to busing, Support for ERA, Impeachment of Clinton, Congressional term limits and many more.

3 Reasons public policy and public opinion may differ publics A.Many constitutional checks (why?) on public opinion; many publics conflict Examples? 1.Checks: representative gov’t, independent judiciary, etc Why? B.Difficult to know public opinion. Why? Why? C.Government listens more to elite views. Why?

4 Influences and LIMITATIONS A.Public ignorance: Monetary Control Bill ruse, EXPLAIN B.Importance of wording of questions in polls: affects answer… EXPLAIN C.Instability of public opinion –Al’s kiss D.Public has more important things to think about  need clear-cut political choices

5 Different types of publics (factions) A.Elites A.Elites -disproportionate amount of political resources & raise issues/set agenda B.Attentive C.Masses

6 The origins of political attitudes: Family and Genetics A.Strongest 1.Correlation between parent’s party affiliation and child’s party affiliation. 2.Less of a correlation on civil liberties and racial issues.

7 The origins of political attitudes: Religion A.Religious traditions affect families 1.Catholic Why? a)Traditionally more liberal. Why? b)More conservative with regards to social issues  Why? c)Until recently a clear majority voted for Democrats, but Bush won Catholic vote in 2004, 2008 54% for Obama, 2012 50% for Obama.  Why? 2.Protestants  a)generally more conservative b)Evangelicals, exp., are most conservative on social issues (Romney won 78% of white Evangelicals) 3.Jewish families decidedly more liberal  strong support for the Democratic party (Obama won 70% in 2012, down 9% from 2008) B.Two theories on differences i.Social status of religious group ii.Content of the religious tradition


9 Left: McCain with Dale Jr. Top: I don’t know what to say…

10 The origins of political attitudes: Gender Gap A.The Gender Gap: the difference in political views between men and women 1.1952: Approx 58% of men and women  Democrats  no gap 2.1996 women still 58%, but men have bolted to the Republican party 3.“Soccer Moms” and “NASCAR Dads”“NASCAR Dads” 4.Gender gap of recent years, but narrowed in 2004 pres. Election (Bush won 48% Of female vote to Kerry’s 51%). Bush’s stronger showing may be due to “security moms” who were concerned about terrorism and national security. In 2008, Obama won 56% to McCain’s 43%. In 2012, Obama won the female vote 56% to 44%, but Romney won the male vote 54% to 46%. a)Largest Gender Gap in Gallup poll history!

11 The origins of political attitudes: Schooling A.College education has liberalizing effect!!! B.Effect extends beyond end of college C.Cause of this liberalization? 1.Personal traits and opinions of those seeking higher education 2.Exposure to more sources of information (info distributed by liberal elite– civil rights etc.) D.Effect growing as more go to college 1.What does this mean for the Republicans?

12 Cleavages in public opinion: Social Class A.Social class: less important in U.S. than in Europe B.A difference can be seen with regards to income: 1.those with higher incomes  more conservative and supportive of Republicans, 2.those with lower incomes  more liberal and supportive of Democrats.

13 Cleavages in public opinion: Race and ethnicity A.Whites: more conservative, greater support for Republicans (2012, 61% for Reps) B.Blacks: more liberal, strongest supporters of Democratic Party (more than 90% Democratic in recent presidential elections) C.Hispanics: Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans more liberal and supportive of Democrats, Cubans more conservative and supportive of Republicans. Bush made gains in Hispanic vote in 2004 (won 44%)… but Republicans lost the vote in 2008 and 2012 (Dems won 67% and 71% respectively) D.Asians: won by Democrats in 2000, 2004, 2008 and with 73% in 2012… why?



16 Cleavages in public opinion: Region  Why? A.Southerners more conservative than northerners: Traditionally Democratic, but increasingly republican  Why?

17 Political ideology A.coherent and consistent set of political beliefs about who ought to rule, the principles rulers ought to obey, & what policies rulers ought to pursue 1.Are you a liberal or a conservative? How do you know? Is there a blood test? B.Most consider themselves “moderates”

18 Political Ideology: Consistent attitudes A.Most citizens are moderates B.Yet many have strong political predispositions

19 Political Ideology: Liberalism's ride 1.Classical Liberalism- 18 th century  basically the same as conservativism today 1.1930s—1970—New Deal, active national government; Social Security, Medicare etc. government would cure the ills of society. 2.1980--1990s  Liberal means big, bureaucratic monster type government  mistrust of gov’t, government is out of control, too big; tax cuts, more power given to the states 3.mid 1990s to 2008? Opposite of the 1930s- ‘70s; government no longer seen as cure; most want smaller government, with more power in the state’s hands and more tax breaks (as seen under Clinton and Bush 43) 4.And today? How do I get off this thing?

20 Political elites, public opinion, and public A.Elites influence public opinion 1.Especially with regard to foreign policy  Why? B.Limits to elite influence on the public not define social or economic problems (e.g. drug use or unemployment) 2.Many elites exist, compete so no single shaping of public issues.

21 Fairly widespread view in 2008

22 2014 Midterm election

23 Measurement of Public Opinion A.By election  deceiving- does not tell WHY people voted as they did “Mandate from the people.” B.By straw poll-often inaccurate C.Exit poll D.By scientific polls 1.Construction a)random sampling: b)comprehensible questions: c)fair questions:fair questions d)answer categories carefully considered: 2.sampling error: what problems does it pose? How can it be reduced? 3.Evaluation of poll results

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