Public opinion & political socialization
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Public opinion & political socialization



Introductory overview for National Government

Introductory overview for National Government



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  • The most important determinant of voting behavior in national elections is race. Party affiliation can be influenced by family and peer groups, generational effects, by the media, and by voter’s assessments of candidates and issues.
  • The most important determinant of voting behavior in national elections is race. Party affiliation can be influenced by family and peer groups, generational effects, by the media, and by voter’s assessments of candidates and issues.

Public opinion & political socialization Public opinion & political socialization Presentation Transcript

  • Public Opinion & Political Socialization POSC 101 Chapter 6
  • Basic Definitions• Public Opinion – The aggregate of individual attitudes and beliefs shared by some portion of adults.• Consensus Opinion – General agreement among citizens.• Divided Opinion – Polarized public views.
  • Defining Public Opinion• Policy- makers and interest groups rely on public opinion when weighing options on the policy making stage (congress, bills, voting, funding, etc.).
  • Defining Public Opinion• Sometimes the differences in opinion are not so wide.
  • Defining Public Opinion• Sometimes they are
  • Defining Public Opinion Opinion Trends on Abortion
  • Defining Public Opinion Consensus Opinion vs. Divided Opinion
  • Political Socialization• Opinions are formed from family and social environments. – Family, socioeconomic and demographic factors influence from an early age. • Socioeconomic status and demographic factors include race, gender, social class, education level and environment, religious beliefs, and so on. – Parental influence can be attributed to communication and relationship. – Today the media is far more influential than family.
  • Political Socialization - Education• At each stage of education, students are exposed to a variety of aspects in American culture. Children are taught American customs, history, the governmental structure and the American experience through stories, songs, movies, textbooks, folk stories, and legends.
  • Political Socialization – Peer Groups• Peer groups tend to share common social characteristics. – For both youth and adults, friendships and associations effect political attitudes. – Individuals join interest groups based on political attitudes that are shaped by peer groups.
  • Political Socialization – Opinion Leaders • Individuals held in high regard because of position, expertise or personality. – Informal leaders—those who influence our political views not intentionally, but with whom we hold in high regard – Formal leaders—those who intentionally sway our political views as part of their job, and with whom we hold in high regard.
  • Political Socialization – Media• Mass Media (all channels of communication) – Broadcast radio & TV – Newspapers – Magazines – Cable channels – All news channels – Satellite channels – Internet – Blogs – Social media – Twitter
  • Political Socialization – Media • The Fairness Doctrine – FCC regulation requiring balanced discussions and equal time for opposing views in effect from 1949 until 1987 when it was decided that the intrusion of the government into broadcasting content infringed on the First Amendment rights of the broadcasters.
  • Political Socialization – Life/Generation
  • Political Socialization – Life/Generation • Teenagers prefer an anything-goes type situation. • Early 20’s they quickly develop progressive economic ideas while in the job market. • In their late 20s, they start making real money. Economic progressivism goes out the window - As the adult mind turns to more material matters, social views dont change that much. • Finally, after the mid-40s, retirement looms. Our former teenagers check their collective 401(k)s and think, you know what, lets all get checks from the government. Social views take a hard turn for the more restrictive. At the end of the journey, economic and social views are again in agreement—only this time on the other side of the philosophical line!
  • Political Preference & Voting Behavior
  • Political Preference & Voting Behavior
  • Political Socialization - Education• Higher education = higher likelihood of voting
  • Political Socialization - Education• Higher education = higher likelihood of voting
  • Political Socialization - Education• Currently, the voting behavior of this group is quite close to the behavior of the electorate as a whole. Those with a high school education have voted Republican in the presidential elections, and those with post graduate degrees are voting Democrat. Businesspersons without an MBA are more likely to have a bachelors or no college degree, tend to vote Republican.
  • Political Socialization - Education
  • Political Socialization - Religion• In the past religious affiliation was a much better predictor of voting preferences than it is today.
  • Political Socialization - Religous • Religious commitment is measured by regular churchgoing. They can be called conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist. Voters who are devout tend to vote Republican; those that are not tend to vote Democrat.
  • Political Socialization - Hispanics• Hispanics – usually vote as an entire block.• In 2000, Hispanics turned to support Bush’s campaign based on religious and family values and patriotism. It wasn’t until talk of comprehensive immigration reform that Republicans opposed granting undocumented workers citizenship, that Hispanic Americans turned to Democratic poll-analysis-hispanics candidates.
  • Political Socialization - Hispanics • Cuban Americans (mostly Florida) tend to vote Republican. • Hispanic Americans tend to vote Democratic.
  • Political Socialization – Gender Gap• Women have different agendas than men• Candidates have taken notice and now appeal to issues that women tend to be concerned with, such as the environment, security, social welfare, and civil rights. ergap.html
  • Political Socialization – Gender Gap• The ―Gender Gap‖ is the difference between how men and women vote for candidates. ergap.html
  • Political Socialization - Geography • People who live in large cities tend to vote Democratic. • Rural Americans tend to vote Republican.
  • Public Opinion Polls• Opinion Polls—a method of systematically questioning small, selected samples of respondents who are deemed representative of the total population. Focus Groups - Stephen Colbert
  • Early Public Opinion Polls • Magazines and newspapers used straw polls and mail surveys of readers to gauge public opinion  Literary Digest developed the technique of mass mailings of questioners to readers
  • Early Public Opinion Polls• Using personal interviews with small samples of selected voters (fewer than 2,000), pollsters proved that they could predict with accuracy the behavior of the total voting population.
  • Public Opinion Polls - Sampling • Representative Sampling—this technique uses a small sample population of fewer than 2000 voters, based on the entire voting population. Therefore, the poll must contain a sample of all socioeconomic and demographic factors that make up the population.
  • Public Opinion Polls - Sampling• Random Sampling—this technique uses a small sample population (approx. 2000) and randomly chooses a selection of telephone numbers and interviews the households. The random samples include respondents from all segments of the population to represent that entire demographic.
  • Public Opinion Polls - Sampling • Quota Sampling—this technique decides how many persons of certain types they need in the survey and then send out interviewers to find the necessary numbers of these types.
  • Public Opinion Polls - Problems• Outdated• Undecided voters• Leading questions• Unscientific/Fraudulent• Poll questions• Sampling errors (difference between a sample’s results and the true result of the entire population that had been interviewed.)
  • Public Opinion Polls - History
  • Public Opinion Polls - Technology• Pollsters prefer telephone over in person polling for cost, safety, time, and immediate results.• Households now screen their phone calls (80% nonresponsive rate).• Increase of cell phone usage and dropping land lines.
  • Public Opinion Polls - Internet • Proper ―weighing‖ of results can provide the accuracy of random samples. • Critics argue the internet violates the basis for randomAP Photo/Daniel Shanken sampling
  • Public Opinion Polls - Technology• Facebook activity give hints about 2010.• Most but not all members of congress have Facebook accounts.• By August 2010, Republicans had twice as many fans as Democrats.
  • Public Opinion and Politics • Political Trust—the degree in which individuals express trust in the government and political institutions, usually measured through a specific series of survey questions.
  • Public Concerns
  • Public Concerns
  • Politics and Public Opinion• The majority of Americans are not fully informed.• What’s in the best interest of the country may not be popular with citizens.• Politicians can’t solely rely on public opinion polls