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Public opinion

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  • This chart is intended to show the contradictory nature of opinions held by the average citizen. They think taxes are too high, but want a lot of social spending programs which require high taxes!
  • Transcript

    • 1. Public Opinion
    • 2. Public Opinion EXPRESSIONS (not attitudes) of individuals regarding their political leaders and institutions as well as political and social issues. Attitudes cannot be measured
    • 3. American Public Opinion is…
      • Uninformed:
        • Supreme Court is the most approved government body, at ~74% approval
        • ~50% of Americans know what the Supreme Court’s main function is
    • 4. American Public Opinion is…
      • Uninformed
      • Inconsistent
        • Illogical across issues
    • 5.  
    • 6. American Public Opinion is…
      • Uninformed
      • Inconsistent
      • Unconnected
        • Most who oppose abortion support the death penalty
    • 7. Survey Systematic interviews by trained, professional interviewers, who ask a standardized set of questions of a rather small number of randomly chosen citizens.
    • 8. Public Opinion Poll a relatively few individuals (the sample) are interviewed in order to estimate the opinions of a whole population.
    • 9. The Theory of Probability
    • 10. Sampling Error?
    • 11. 68% 95% The Bell Curve
    • 12. Representative Sample each individual in the population has an equal probability of being selected at random for inclusion in the survey
    • 13.  
    • 14. Straw Polls Unscientific surveys which make no attempt at using a representative (random) sample in their polling. Think “Jaywalk All-Stars” -or local news
    • 15. 1936 Presidential Election
    • 16.  
    • 17. 2004 Zogby Exit Polls
    • 18. Push polls Polls which deliberately feed respondents misleading information or leading questions in an effort to “push” them into favoring a particular candidate or issue.
    • 19. Push Polls
      • Do you support abortion?
      • Do you support the extermination of unborn children?
      • Do you favor Obama?
      • Would you support Obama if he favored tax increases?
    • 20. Sampling Issues
      • Biased sample population
        • SELECTION BIAS is the most important issue
          • Inherent characteristics of a sample which lead it to be unrepresentative of the population at large.
        • Representative = mirror of the population
          • Pollsters should really focus on the voting population
    • 21. Sampling Issues
      • Biased sample population
        • Most important issue
      • Sample Size
        • Quantity is good, quality is better
    • 22. Sampling Issues
      • Biased sample population
        • Most important issue
      • Sample Size
        • Quantity is good, quality is better
      • Wording of questions/response options
        • “ framing can occur” as with push polls
    • 23. Examples of Selection Bias
      • Original Studies on Vegetarian Diets
    • 24. Examples of Selection Bias
      • Original studies on Vegetarian Diets
      • United Nations is terrible at peacekeeping
      • Causes of War case studies
    • 25. Actual Question
    • 26. Actual Question
    • 27. Use of Polls
      • Rachel Maddow (and others): 72% of Foxnews viewers oppose the Civil Rights Act
      • Is this an accurate depiction?
    • 28. Civil Rights Act (1964)
      • Title I: Equal Application of Voter Registration Standards
      • Title II: No discrimination in “public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce”
      • Title III: Sub-National Governments cannot ban access to public facilities based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity
      • Title IV: Attorney General can sue to enforce desegregation
      • Title V: Expanded powers of Civil Rights Commission
      • Title VI: No discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funding
    • 29. Use of Polls
      • One provision of the act is vaguely referenced
      • Consider this alternative:
      • Do you support the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
        • Yes: 28%
        • No: 72%
        • Would the conclusion “72% of Foxnews viewers oppose Civil Rights Act” be accurate?
    • 30. Use of Polls
      • NO!!!
        • We still don’t know the nature of the sample
        • Not all viewers were asked
        • The sample was not random (it was self-selected)
        • 72% of RESPONDENTS, not viewers
    • 31. Other issues
      • Middle Tendencies
      • “ Socially acceptable” responses
      • Some “pretend” to have an opinion
        • Public Affairs Act (filter question)
    • 32. Consider this…
      • A national public opinion poll of 1200 randomly selected respondents indicated:
        • 620 (51.7%) favor Obama
        • 580 (48.3%) favor McCain
        • This is a +/- 2.8% confidence interval
        • Who is leading???
    • 33. The Leader is…
      • No one
      • Obama could be supported by as low as 48.9%
      • McCain could be favored by as high as 51.1%
      • “ Statistical dead heat”
    • 34. Why does public opinion matter?
      • Some argue government should reflect the will of the people
        • Clinton very sensitive to polls (Somalia)
        • Bush not so much
      • Media will mislead, misinterpret, “misunderestimate,” etc.
        • Be skeptical of what is reported
    • 35. Political Socialization the learning process through which people acquire their political opinions, beliefs and values.
    • 36. Political beliefs are acquired through a lifelong learning process.
    • 37.  
    • 38. Age-Cohort Tendency
    • 39. Agents of Political Socialization
      • Family
      • Schools
      • Mass Media
      • Peers
      • Political Institutions & Leaders
      • Churches
    • 40.  
    • 41. Public Opinion of…
      • Race and ethnicity
      • Religion
      • Region
      • City vs. country
      • Party Affiliation
    • 42.  

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