L14 Public Opinion - Public Opinion Lecture 14 February 22,...

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Public Opinion Lecture 14 February 22, 2008 Pol 1101
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Key concept: Legitimacy Legitimacy: extent of popular involvement Governments (especially constitutional democracies) rely on legitimacy for state building 1. Importance of popular consent (campaigns, speeches, media etc) 2. The more people perceive government working in their interest, the more willing to expand its power (polls, media, political parties, etc)
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Weird Public Opinion: What do foreigners think about the U.S.? America in general “Most Americans are religious extremists or bigots, gun enthusiasts, and are not a particularly tolerant people. “Black Americans are poverty-stricken (celebrities aside), the South remains fundamentally racist, and America is being taken over by Hispanics.
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Weird Public Opinion American government “Government? The president is in charge and can do what he likes – especially when it comes to war – but recent occupants of the Oval Office tend to be peculiarly ill-suited to the job: Kennedy was a sleaze, Nixon a crook, Reagan and Shrub intellectual lightweights, and Clinton a sex-fiend.
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Weird Public Opinion American Politics “Elections are entirely based on personality and looks, not issues. “Elections don’t matter much, since the Democrats and Republicans are two right-wing parties with no real differences between them. “Money is the sole determinant of success in America (electoral, political, and otherwise).
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Weird Public Opinion American foreign policy “As for foreign policy: Americans neither care nor know about the rest of the world, they believe that the Middle East is Kansas, and they will only involve themselves in military operations if no American lives are lost.”
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What is Public Opinion? Public opinion is “the values and attitudes that people have about issues, events, and personalities.” B. Individual political opinions have both direction and intensity. 1. Direction refers to the opinions individuals hold. 2. Intensity refers to how deeply individuals hold that opinion and how likely they are to act on it. C. Overall p.o. has the characteristics of saliency and latency . 1. Salient p.o. enjoys widespread public attention and is a high priority. 2. Latent p.o. remains in the background and is largely unmolded or uncrystallized.
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de Tocqueville speaks de Tocqueville observed the preeminence of public opinion in American politics He thought that “the power of the majority surpasses” other competing powers. He criticized this, arguing, “the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion.” Debates about the proper role of public opinion in American politics focus on * the importance of the majority in democracies * the impediments to free thought and expression in public opinion imposed by majority-rule structure.
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“The Marketplace of Ideas” A. The “marketplace of ideas” is a public forum 1. Common language of a society, literacy, communications, and free expression are the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course POL 1101 taught by Professor White during the Spring '07 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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L14 Public Opinion - Public Opinion Lecture 14 February 22,...

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