How Public Opinion Is Formed

How Public Opinion Is Formed - problem based on how the...

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How Public Opinion Is Formed Americans have a tremendous amount of information about politics available to them.  The mass media — television and its expanding cable and satellite outlets in particular  — provide a daily stream of news and analysis. During an election year, the stream  becomes a torrent. The availability of information does not necessarily mean that it is  absorbed and used, however. Americans may be politically engaged, but research  shows that many are unfamiliar with how their government works and what candidates  stand for, and many are ignorant about the basic facts of public policy. This lack of  knowledge does not prevent Americans from expressing their opinions. Rarely does  someone say, "I can't comment on that; I don't have enough information." How then is  public opinion formed?  Personal interest Personal interest has a straightforward effect on public opinion. Individuals respond to a 
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Unformatted text preview: problem based on how the outcome will affect them. This is rather obvious on pocketbook issues: cutting the capital gains tax or increasing co-payments under Medicare can have an immediate and direct impact on people's lives. Self-interest does not apply to all areas of political debate. If you do not have school-age children, the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act may be irrelevant to you. Since the attacks of September 11, on the other hand, every American has an opinion on the war on terrorism and how effectively the federal government is dealing with the threats to the country; opinions on the war in Iraq certainly were not limited to Americans in the armed services or those who have a family member serving....
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