Study Guide for Polisci - Study Guide Test 2 American...

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Study Guide: Test 2 American National Government Chapter 5: Public Opinion and Political Socialization - Core beliefs- individual’s views about the fundamental nature of human beings, society, and economy: taken together they compromise the political culture - Political attitudes- Individual’s views about public, political parties, candidates, government institutions, and public offices - Public opinion- Political attitudes and core beliefs expressed by ordinary citizens as revealed by surveys o Sample survey- an interview of a set of people who are chosen as representative of the whole population (1,000 to 1,500) o Random Sampling- The selection of survey respondents by chance, with equal probability, to ensure their representativeness of the whole population - Problems in Political Polling o Wording of questions o Forced choice questions – chose between preformulated answers o People are less willing to participate, screen their calls, have mobile phones - Political socialization- The process by which individuals come to have certain core beliefs and political attitudes o Agents of political socialization Family, schools, peers, church, news media - How People’s Opinions Differ o Race and ethnicity o Social class o Region o Education o Gender o Age o Religion Denomination Religiously committed v. the less committed and secular o Partisanship Growing distance between active partisans (identify with a party) - Are People Fit to Rule o Most Americans do not know or care a lot about politics. o Americans have little specific knowledge about government and politics. o The things that most Americans don’t know may not be vital. o Lack of detailed knowledge or ideology does not mean that public opinion is unstable or irrelevant. o Cumulative knowledge
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o Americans’ collective policy preferences are very stable over a long period of time. o Recent research indicates that Americans’ collective policy preferences react fairly sensibly to events. - The Content of Collective Public Opinion o The system in general Significant level of public confidence in the system Despite some surges, long-term trust in the federal government is much lower than it was in the 1950s-60s o Government Performance Presidential approval rating General downward trend Tends to fluctuate in response to particular events (rally points) The state of the economy is especially important Congressional approval rating Much more recent Too early to tell significant trends o Party Identification The sense of belonging to a party 1930s-1990s: more Americans identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans Since September 11, 2001, an equal number of Americans have identified themselves as Democrats and Republicans Party balance among voters has important effects on who rules in Washington, and especially on which party controls Congress Since the 1960’s, an increasing number of Americans have identified themselves as independents
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