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!
  • Public opinion

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