Public Opinion - 1. Begin part 3 of American Government 2....

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Unformatted text preview: 1. Begin part 3 of American Government 2. Public Opinion Thursday, Thursday, April 8th What is Public Opinion? What is Public Opinion? Aggregation of people’s views about issues, situations and public figures. Mass public: ordinary people for whom politics is often a peripheral concern Political elites: activists and office holders who have well structured ideologies that connect the individual’s views on a wide range of particular issues. Important Questions Important Questions What is the proper role for public opinion? Should Politicians be Delegates (faithfully present views of the mass public) or Trustees (exercise independent judgment)? How can we accommodate low levels of political knowledge and interest within democracy? TOPEKA, Kan., Oct. 12 — TOPEKA, Kan., Oct. 12 — Grace Mosier lives with her mom and dad, goes to birthday parties, takes ballet classes and is just like a lot of other 6­year­old girls. Except that she happens to be obsessed with Dick Cheney. “I really, really like him,” says Grace, who can tell you what state the vice president was born in (Nebraska), where he went to grade school (College View, in Lincoln) and the names of his dogs (Dave and Jackson). She gets her fix of Cheney fun­facts by visiting the White House Web site for children. It says there that his favorite teacher was Miss Duffield and that he used to run a company called Halliburton. So when Mr. Cheney came to town Thursday, Grace was at Forbes Field, holding a little American flag and a sign that said, “Welcome, Mr. Vice President, pet Dave and Jackson for me.” She watched him get off Air Force Two, step into a car and speed off to a fund­raiser. Where do attitudes come Where do attitudes come from? Socialization: the end result of all the processes by which social groups give individuals their beliefs and values Self interest: what’s in it for me? Some support that Americans think this way Media Effects are complicated Ideology: a system of beliefs in which one or more organizing principles connect the individual’s views on a wide range of particular issues Very few think this way Core Values: such as individualism, equality, limited government Stronger support that Americans use values to make up their minds on politics Measurement: How do we know what Measurement: How do we know what people think? Letters to the Editor/Representatives Votes Focus groups: small groups of people brought Survey Research Face to Face Telephone Web together to talk about issues or candidates at length and in depth Sampling Sampling Random: Theoretically, each person has an equal chance of being drawn into the sample Examples: Exit polling: every fourth person? RDD: Random Digit Dialing Selection Bias Selection Bias Sample is unrepresentative Ex. “Dewey defeats Truman,” 1948 Polling ended early, late deciders supported Truman Sampling Error Sampling Error chance variation due to using a small but chance representative sample to estimate characteristics of a larger population. characteristics Margin of Error Measurement Error Measurement Error error that arises from attempting to measure something as subjective as public opinion Implications for: Survey research Democracy Response Options Response Options Is the Clinton health plan better or worse than the current system? Version 1 52% better, 34% worse, 14% Don’t know (volunteered) Version 2: offer don’t know option 21% better, 27% worse, 52% Don’t know enough Social Desirability Social Desirability People feel pressure to give the “right” answer in a survey context Affects answers on a variety of questions (voting, drug use, sexual behavior, tax evasion, racial attitudes, etc.) Vote Question Text: NES Vote Question Text: NES In talking to people about elections, we often find that a lot of people were not able to vote because they weren't registered, they were sick, or they just didn't have time. Which of the following statements best describes you: One, I did not vote (in the election this November) Two, I thought about voting this time ­ but didn't Three, I usually vote, but didn't this time Four, I am sure I voted? Reported Vote Turnout, Reported Vote Turnout, 2000 I did not vote in the election this November (145, 12%) I thought about voting this time but didn’t (103, 7%) I usually vote, but didn’t this time (83, 5%) I am sure I voted (1,182, 76%) Open vs. Closed Open vs. Closed How many hours of tv do you watch a day? OR How many hours of tv do you watch a week? none, 1, 2­3, 4­7, 8 or more none, 1­3, 4­7, 8­10, 11 or more Framing Effects Framing Effects Situations in which different ways of posing a policy issue produce distinctly different public responses Gains vs. Loss Word choice Question order Positive Frame Positive Frame Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows: If program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted, there is a one­third probability that 600 people will be saved and a two­thirds probability that no people will be saved. Which of the two programs would you favor? Negative Frame Negative Frame Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease, which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to combat the disease have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows: If program A is adopted, 400 people will die. If program B is adopted, there is a one­third probability that nobody will die and a two­thirds probability that 600 people will die. Which of the two programs would you favor? Results Results Kahneman & Tversky 1984 Framing: Word Choice Framing: Word Choice Are we spending too little on welfare/assistance to the poor? 13 percent on “welfare” 59 percent on “assistance to the poor” Framing: Order Effects Framing: Order Effects How satisfied are you with your life? How often do you date? OR How often do you date? How satisfied are you with your life? Order Effects Order Effects What is Ted Kennedy’s political party? What is Ted Kennedy’s position on abortion? OR What is Ted Kennedy’s religion? What is Ted Kennedy’s position on abortion? Do you think that the US should let Communist newspaper reporters from other countries come in here and send back to their papers the news as they see it? 36% Yes Do you think that a Communist country like Russia should let American newspaper reporters come in and send back to American the news as they see it? 90% Yes 73% Yes to Communist newspaper reporters in to the US Order A Order Effects and Age Order Effects and Age Do you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she is married and does not want any more children? "Do you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if there is a strong chance of serious defect in the baby? OR Order B Do you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if there is a strong chance of serious defect in the baby? Do you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she is married and does not want any more children? Order Effects Order Effects Norbert Schwarz ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/09/2011 for the course GOV 310L taught by Professor Kieth during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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