10.04 - 10.04.07 Political Science I II Review a Public...

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10.04.07 Political Science I. Review a. Public opinion: i. Opinion—summary of valence beliefs about an object, has an object, a thing, and a valence for or against. 1. Certain kind: action pregnant opinions—intense opinions backed up by a lot of individuals, and stable over time they lead to action ii. Public: opinions of all Americans, what are the objects?—objects that are of general relevance to government iii. Different issues have different distributions of supporters b. How do we know? i. Surveys and Polls ii. Relevant issues: 1. Who is the sample to talk to 2. Are the questions fair? iii. There is no one right way to measure public opinion c. Main features from surveys: i. Uninformed—ppl lack the basic knowledge about American govt 1. On many issues Americans don’t have an opinion ii. Unideological—problem as many people don’t think ideologically elites are speaking a diff language than public iii. People endorse abstract but not substantial , and people flipflop all the time d. Reassurance: i. Americans are not alone in having low quality of public opinions. Many citizens of other countries are also uninformed and unideological. II. Public Opinion Cont’d a. Why does it have these features when we are a democracy? Democracy is supposed to derive its power from the people! So why? b. Answer: Americans are rationally ignorant. Rational Ignorance i. Rational v. Irrational = balance of cost and benefits ii. Idea that people are rational—people do things if the benefits outweigh the costs and they don’t do things if the costs outweigh the benefits. iii. So why are they uninformed? Think about the costs and benefits iv. What are the costs associated with being informed? 1. Time, cost, and energy trying to get informed 2. Politics is a sideshow in the circus of life a. For most people it is not important, there are other things that are more important b. For most people, personal life, celebrity, entertainment news is more important.
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v. What are the benefits? (What if you knew everything there was needed to know for politics?)
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