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6 Public Political Thought - PS 110 APublic Opinion 6...

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PS 110 6: Public Political Thought 6-1 A—Public Opinion public opinion : politically relevant opinions held by ordinary citizens that they express openly 1. Application and Problems with Public Opinion a. based in ideal of self-government, such that public opinion matters given governmental authority’s derivation from it b. varying levels of public interest i. salient issues : issues interesting all citizens or evoking a response from nearly all citizens (i.e. abortion)—implication of majoritarianism ii. issues not interesting the general public: pluralistically—specific issues may only effect and interest specific groups (i.e. farm subsidies for farmers), not interesting the ordinary public elitist—some issues are simply unknown to the general public or are overly complicated for the general public to form opinions (i.e. secret intelligence or complex economic data) c. informedness of the general public is low: i. many often hold contradictory opinions (i.e. wanting more government programs but lower taxes) ii. low levels of information, especially on complex issues 2. Measures a. ineffective measures of public opinion: i. elections—only provide voters with a yes or no vote on a candidate, with a wide variety of opinions, rather than on a single issue ii. letters/e-mails to the editor or representatives, online polls—represent the most extreme views, coming from the people passionate enough to participate or visiting/reading a particular site/publication on preconceived notions b. public opinion polls
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