Chapter06 - Chapter6 PublicOpinion, PoliticalSocialization...

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Chapter 6 Public Opinion, Political Socialization and the Media
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Public Opinion Aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs shared by some  portion of the adult population No  one  public opinion; many different “publics” Key role in policymaking A source of power in dealing with other politicians Helps candidates identify issue concerns Policy leaders respond to changes in public opinion  about 2/3 of the time Sets limits on government action through public pressure Consensus opinion  – general agreement on an issue Divisive opinion  – polarized between two quite different  positions
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Figure 6-1: Consensus Opinion No Opinion 2% Disapprove 10% Approve 88% QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush handled his job as president in the first few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks? SOURCE: The Gallup Poll, January 23-25, 2003
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Figure 6-2:  Divisive Opinion  No Opinion 3% Disapprove 44% Approve 53% QUESTION: Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush has handled his job as president over the past few weeks? SOURCE: The Gallup Poll, January 23-25, 2003
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Qualities of Public Opinion Intensity  – strength of a position intense opinions often generate public action intense minority can often win over a less intense majority Fluidity  – extent to which public opinion changes over time Stability  – extent to which public opinion remains constant Relevance  – extent to which an issue is of concern issues become relevant when they are viewed as of direct  concern to daily life Political knowledge  – extent to which individuals are aware of  an issue
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Discussion Questions How much should public opinion influence  government decisionmakers? Should policymakers ever ignore public  opinion? Should policymakers simply “follow the  polls”?
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Measuring Public Opinion   Opinion poll  = a method of systematically questioning a small,  selected sample of respondents who are deemed representative  of the total population  Simple random sample  – each member of the population has  an  equal chance  of being selected for the sample Most scientific; sample represents population’s diversity in  demography and opinion Quota sample  – less accurate; polling organizations  predetermine the characteristics of the needed sample, and then  find respondents with those characteristics to fill the slots Sampling error  – difference between a sample’s results and the  result if the entire population had been interviewed
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Problems with Polls Polls are a  “snapshot in time”  of potentially shifting  opinions Classic errors : presidential election polls in 1948 and 
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2011 for the course POLS 130 taught by Professor Josephsalazar during the Summer '10 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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Chapter06 - Chapter6 PublicOpinion, PoliticalSocialization...

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