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Public Opinion Unit 2.

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Presentation on theme: "Public Opinion Unit 2."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Opinion Unit 2

2 Inconsistencies Unpopular government actions
Popular rule vs. popular policies How to gauge what the public interests are Political action translates into weighted opinions (the more involved you are, the more you are heard)

3 What is public opinion? Value of polls Value of elections
Consensus – 75% at least of people Polarized – less than 75%

4 Origins of Political Theory
“brainwashed” theory Manipulation by media/ candidates/ activists Family Strongest Identification with parents political party Changing issues with time Discussion of ideology

5 Origins of political attitudes (cont.)
Religion Affect of particular religious social status Religious tradition Protestants – more conservative Catholics – more liberal Jews - liberal Gender Changing political issues affect which party women tend to support Women’s issues (prohibition, war, rights) Security issues – women moved to right in 2004

6 Origins of political attitudes (cont.)
Educational Levels College education usually translates into greater liberalism College doesn’t translate into liberalism, but characteristics of students Exposure to different philosophies/thoughts Nature of intellectual work Increased political influence Income Levels Opinion Leaders Mass Media

7 Cleavages in Public Opinion
Many divisions: race, religion, region, education, occupation, income, etc. Issues weighted differently by different people Social Class Different views/lifestyles Voting patterns Decreasing differentials

8 Cleavages in public opinion, cont.
Race and Ethnicity Blacks most consistently liberal members of Democratic Party Some disagreements between black leaders and black citizens Other ethnic groups not as concentrated

9 Cleavages in public opinion, cont.
Region/Geography Differences greatest for non-economic issues Cultural/social differences Changes: south used to be solid democrats, now shifting toward Republican Population shifts

10 Cleavages in public opinion, cont.
Political affiliation – strongest vote indicator Growing number of non-aligned voters More registering as independent, roughly 1/3 Most lean toward one party or another Younger, wealthier, college educated Realigning elections – long term change in political realignment: 1932, 1994

11 Political Ideology Consistent attitudes define political ideology
Liberal active national government that intervenes in the economy and creates a social welfare state Conservatives- opposing an activist national government: free market; state’s rights Changing definitions – huge historical changes

12 Political Ideology, cont.
Categories of opinion Foreign Policy Liberals favor reduced military build-up and interventions Conservatives favor defense preparedness and protection of interests Economy Liberals favor government spread of wealth Conservatives favor free market Civil Rights Liberals favor government action providing opportunities Conservatives favor personal initiative Public and Political Conduct Liberals tolerate protests, legalizing drugs, decriminalize “victimless” crimes, rights of the accused Conservatives favor laws/punishment

13 More accurate political labels
Pure liberals Economic and personal issues Pure conservatives Libertarians Conservative economically, liberal socially Populists Liberal economically, conservative socially

14 Political Elites Activists in nature Educated in political issues
New class of influence in America Personal investment in the growth of government

15 Political Elites, Public Opinion, and Public Policy
Elites have access to the media thus raising and framing political issues Set the ‘norms’ for issues to be judged Often resist the efforts of the general public Try to ‘set’ opinion for entire country Differences between elite and public opinion – going back to elite and popular culture

16 Public Opinion The art of polling
Persons interviewed must be a random sample Questions must be asked fairly Questions must be comprehensible Answer categories offered to a person must be carefully considered Must consider sampling errors Polls can be purposely skewed Difficulty of truly gauging public opinion

17 Political Participation: A Look at Non-Voting
Proportion of registered voters vs. proportion of voting age citizens Low turnout in the US reflects on apathy of people to register, those registered tend to vote Citizen Resident Age Register Non-Felon

18 A look at nonvoting… Various reasons for not registering center on registration process Institutional barriers Registration Long ballot Lack of strong candidate Type of elections/number of elections Difficulty of getting absentee ballots Motor voter law

19 A look at nonvoting… Voting is only one avenue of political participation Low registration may represent satisfaction with government Lack of education? Lack of access?

20 The Rise of the American Electorate
U.S. first offered opportunity for number of citizens to vote State to Federal control of voting Congress has taken control of restrictions to voting 15th Amendment used often by courts Extended vote to women (19th) Age restrictions (26th)

21 Voting Turnout Downward trends in the 20th century
Less than 50% in Presidential Elections 30-40% in midterm, Congressional elections Much lower compared to other countries Parties more active in the 19th century than later ones Political machines Voting violations Advent of secret ballots, 1890

22 Forms of Political Participation
Voting Contributions Organizational Participation – communalists Campaigners

23 Causes of Participation
Higher amongst the better educated Higher as people age Higher among those with higher incomes Whites more likely to vote than blacks Tend to skew election results and campaign costs

24 Impediments Youthfulness of population
Political parties not as effective Unimportance (perceived) of elections

25 Participation Rates Increasing for nonvoting action
Level out when considering how many elective office and elections there are

26 Parties in General A way of identifying candidates to the voters
Parties can reflect changing times Serve as labels Exists as an organization Provides a set of leaders European political nominations come from within the parties Campaigns are run and financed by the party

27 Parties in General, cont.
Parties have not centralized as the government has from state authority to federal authority In U.S. elections, the Congressional and Presidential elections can be/are unrelated Registering as a party member does not dictate participation

28 The Rise and Decline of the Political Party
Hostility to parties from founders of the US Emergence of the Jefferson Republicans in the 1790s Hamilton’s followers kept Federalist identification Unable to compete with the Democratic Republicans First party system

29 The Rise and Decline of the Political Party
Second Party System Emerged with the Jacksonian Democrats Initial appearance of the party convention Whigs as opposition parties

30 Rise and Decline of the Political Party
Appearance of Sectionalism Slavery as divisive as political issues Modern Republican party is born (only 3rd party to do well) Came to dominance as a result of the Civil War Various factions within party Stalwarts “mugwumps” Progressives reformers

31 Rise and Decline of the Political Party
Progressive Era Primary elections Initiatives Referendums

32 National Party Structure Today
Different structures and organizations at each level (local, state, etc.) At national level, both parties very similar National conventions every 4 years National committees Congressional campaign committees National chairperson

33 National Party Structure Today, cont.
Recently, the Republicans have become more bureaucratized while the democrats have become more factionalized Republicans are financing a national political consulting firm Parties determine number and requirements of delegates to national conventions

34 State and Local Parties
Political Machines Recruits via incentives Operated as a form of social welfare Gradual introduction of federal restrictions regarding machines Recognition of the organization that is a part of politics Fewer machines in existence today

35 State and Local Politics
Ideological Parties Usually take form of 3rd parties Factions within established parties Harder to define leadership Solidary Groups Social activity Sponsored Parties Unions/ other interests support Personal Following Based on friends, charisma, bank account

36 The Two-Party System Different Parties dominate at different times and regions Longevity of the two-party system is amazing Plurality of votes leads to fewer candidates (majority of votes would encourage more candidates as there would be run-offs) Winner take all Electoral College Difficulty of third party candidates to get on ballot

37 Minor Parties Permanent fixtures of American political life
Can have major impact on presidential elections

38 Nominating a President
Do the delegates represent the voters? Activists and leaders carry different views than regular party members Discrepancy placed on selection process Selection via caucuses and primary elections Issue oriented delegates

39 Parties vs. Voters Democratic presidential nominees have had differing views from average voters

40 Elections and Campaigns – Presidential versus Congressional
Presidential Races More competitive during initial stages – weed out the week Party alliance not as important as in other races More people vote and participate, although turnout is still low

41 Congressional Campaigns
Congressional representatives can offer specific programs Can distance self from messes Voter anger at President can carry over to Congress Usually, elections are not separate from Presidential ones

42 Running for President Presidential caliber Familiarity to voters
Political actions Money Requirements for federal matching Cost of campaigns Organization

43 Running for President Strategy and themes Tone of campaign
Consistent theme Timing Target voters

44 Primary versus General Campaigns
Mobilization of political activists Speeches Brief, to the point Don’t want to turn off voters Use of media Packaging of the candidates Advertising Newscasts Campaign debates

45 Primary versus General Campaigns, cont.
Kinds of elections General Primary Closed, open, or blanket Run-off Primary Presidential Primary Delegate selection Delegate selection with advisory presidential preference Binding presidential preference

46 Money Rising Costs of elections Sources of campaign money
Private donors Presidential candidates can receive federal funds PACs Benefits Challengers have to put out more personal money than incumbents

47 Campaign Finance Rules, 1974
Federal Election Committee (FED) All candidates must disclose contributions and expenditures Presidential candidates may receive federal matching funds FEC then applies guidelines/restrictions Qualified based on percentage of vote received contribution limits

48 Campaign Finance Rules, 1974
Contribution Limits Individuals: $2000 per candidate, per election year – limit, $25,000 PACs: $5,000 per candidate per election year, no overall cap Allows for soft money-independent committees that do own advertising Donations to national party are not included

49 Independent Political Advertising
Advertising for a candidate but not through their campaign = NO LIMIT

50 Political Party Donations
Unlimited but need to be spent on local activities

51 Effects of Reform Reforms have actually led to INCREASED campaign spending primarily though growth of PACs Candidate have more control over more money Advantage to wealthy candidates Campaigns have tendency to now focus on emotional appeals Encourage early declaration of presidency Reforms help the incumbents, hurt challengers

52 Money and Winning Affect on Congressional races
Easier for incumbents to raise money based on their current position

53 What Decides the Election?
Party Identification Issues (especially the economy) Prospective voting (forward looking) Retrospective voting (backward looking) Most elections decided on this issues: what have you done for me lately?

54 What decides the election?
The Campaign Reawaken the partisan loyalties of voters Chance to watch candidate under pressure Opportunity to judge the character and core values of candidates Finding a winning coalition Adding swing voters to the base votes Demographic factors in building a coalition

55 Election Outcomes Party realignments Party decline
Critical or realigning periods Party decline Increase of split-ticket voting Traditional “party column” has changed to “office block”

56 The Effects of Elections on Policy
Parties are weak coalitions of diverse elements Without a crisis (war, depression, etc.) major changes are rare Exceptions occur when there is a large “party” win – landslide control of Presidency and Congress Popular Consensus

57 Interest Groups Proliferation Reasons for interest groups
Great variety in interests as society separates and grows Economic and social groupings Immigrant issues/cultural differences Religious issues Access to government Political authority shared at all levels Many opportunities to voice opinion/try to influence Weakness of political parties Interests work outside of parties

58 Birth of Interest Groups
1960s and 1970s as boom years for interest groups Cyclical growth of interest groups throughout history Economic development Government policies Development of leadership Government activities instigate organizational growth

59 Kinds of Organizations
Interest groups seek to influence public policy Institutional interests Representing other organizations Business, other government organizations, etc.

60 Kinds of Organizations
Membership Interests Incentives to join: Solidary incentives Material benefits Purpose of organization If organization will benefit non-member, it is a public interest lobby Interest in controversial principles are ideological interest groups Influence of Interest group staff

61 Interest Groups and Social Movements
Environmental Movement Sierra Club  Environmental Defense Fund  Environmental Action Feminist Movement Different groupings throughout history Different goals historically Solidary incentive organizations: League of Women Voters Purposive incentives (NOW, Abortion Rights) Specific issues that have material benefit

62 Interest Groups and Social Movements
Union Movement Changing demographics and economics have hurt movement

63 Funds for Interest Groups
Foundation Grants Federal Grants and Contracts Direct Mail

64 The Problem of Bias Do interest groups reflect the elite?
The wealthy are more inclined to participate in interest groups Many interest groups represent business/government

65 Activities of Interest Groups
Information Try and show public support for issues (real or not) Use of public pressure Grassroots approach Money and PACs Changing role of money with campaign finance reform Rapid growth of PACs Undefined role-do PACs influence policy or are they told what to do and how to finance campaigns? Unchartable role of financial contributors (special privileges? Lincoln Bedroom, perhaps?)

66 Activities of Interest Groups, cont.
The “Revolving” Door Movement of workers from government positions to private positions worry some regarding undue influence Is the position payback from an earlier political favor? Does the person use their earlier contacts in undue fashion? Trouble Disruptive tactics Political ploy to gain the nation’s attention No-win situation for the government To give/cave in or ignore?

67 Regulating Interest Groups
Interest group activities are protected by the first amendment Direct lobbyists need to register (no direct enforcement) Regulatory questions Should money and contributions be accounted for? Restrictions on interest groups come more from tax codes, etc. than from government regulation Serious lobbying for changes tax-exempt status of group

68 Journalism in American Political History
The Party Press Circulation among the political and commercial elites Relentlessly partisan, tied to the government The Popular Press Self-supporting, mass readership newspapers appear Partisan from perspective of publishers Use of sensationalism to increase readership Joseph Pulitzer, William R. Hearst Creating national consensus, opinion

69 Journalism in American Political History
Magazines of Opinion Move away from “yellow journalism” Issues of public policy National constituency on behalf of certain issues Muckrakers Familiarity of “household” name authors Electronic Journalism Opportunity to speak directly to the people Economic factors Less opportunity for all politicians and all viewpoints to be heard Boredom factor

70 The Structure of the Media
Mass media NOT mirror of reality – they select what they cover Degree of competition Decline in competing newspapers Increased competition in radio and television

71 The Structure of the Media
The national media Wire services News magazines Network news Importance of national press Government officials pay attention to what they say about them More prestigious reporters Gatekeeper: influence what becomes news items Scorekeepers: keep track of who is doing what (may not reflect actual importance) Watchdog: close examination (once media decides candidate/politician is important)

72 The Structure of the Media
Differences between print and electronic news Newspapers can cover in greater depth TV chooses stories for visual impact as well as importance More money involved in TV

73 Rules Governing the Media
More regulations for TV and radio than for print Incorporation of First Amendment Rights Responsibility relates to libelous, obscene, or intent to commit an illegal act Courts have narrow definitions Proof of malicious intent

74 Rules Governing the Media, cont.
Confidentiality of sources Courts decide if able to keep sources confidential or not If bears on commission of a crime, the courts usually back the government

75 Rules Governing the Media, cont.
Regulation and deregulation Role of the FCC Application/renewal process for radio and TV Content regulations Equal time rule: candidates for political office Right of reply rule: person has opportunity to defend self Political editorializing rule: opposing candidate has right to reply

76 Rules Governing the Media, cont.
Campaigning Not always an efficient way of reaching the electorate Various markets

77 The Effects of the Media on Politics
Difficult to determine influence of media on elections Input from other sources Selective attention Heavy media spending does seem to help some candidates Media can accurately reflect the issues that citizens find important Voters who read newspapers see candidates differently than those who only watch TV

78 Government and the News
Prominence of the President Role and importance of relationship between the President and the Media Role of the press secretary and news briefings Coverage of Congress Not as broad based as presidential coverage Efforts at increasing attention

79 Interpreting Political News
Public and media see the roles/actions of the media differently Journalists, in general, are more liberal than the public

80 Interpreting Political News
Are news stories slanted? Routine stories Selected stories Insider stories Nonroutine stories Stories can reflect journalists’ opinions even more than the opinions of experts in the field What beliefs or opinions led the editors to run this story? How representative of expert and popular opinion are the views of the people quoted in the story? What adjectives are being used to color the story?

81 Interpreting Political News
Government restraints on journalists Journalists need to contact with officials Role of official press officers Why do we have so many news leaks? Leaks are favorable to a politician’s interest Competition for coverage and power Role of the adversarial press

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