Public Opinion

Public Opinion - Public Opinion Tuesday, March 29, 2011...

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Public Opinion Tuesday, March 29, 2011 11:02 AM "Those opinions held by private persons which governments find it prudent to heed" - V.O. Key "The American people do not support a war without end. And neither should this Congress" - Nancy Pelosi Why does it matter? Public opinion is crucial for a democracy and maintaining principle- agent relationship. Politicians want to get re-elected so they appeal to the public, but they don't necessarily always know what is best for them Modern efforts to measure, shape, and exploit public opinion have spawned new industries o Public opinion polling o Investigate the opinions of ordinary people Advent of scientific polling o Random sampling - internet surveys are only answered by those with strong opinions or some bias Wording of question bias Ordering of the questions Interpretation of the questions/poll Where the poll is conducted o Sample size - random size is between 800-1000 o Margin of error- confidence interval that is given to the results of the poll o Measurement error "Random" Sampling o How? Put people into groups or random digit dialing , not good because those who don't hang up are elderly bored people who just want to talk to someone on the phone, not everyone has a phone or a landline or the right area code o Often not really a random sample Why not? o Accounting for underrepresenation Weigh sample How you poll matters o Straw polls Newspapers (self-selection), check the box on a newspaper but only applies to those who subscribe to the newspaper o Literary Digest Presidential polls Postcards Correctly picked president from 1920-1932 1936: President Alf Landon 57 percent for Landon, 43% for FDR FDR won 62% to 38% What might have happened? Great depression, New Deal programs and voters for that program probably can't afford Literary Digest The Origins of Public Opinion o Public Opinion --> political behavior o To understand public opinion, we need to understand individual opinions
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2012 for the course POLI 100 taught by Professor Rabinowitz during the Spring '07 term at UNC.

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Public Opinion - Public Opinion Tuesday, March 29, 2011...

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