Mechanisms by which individuals are tied to their government

Mechanisms by which individuals are tied to their...

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Public Opinion in American Society : 40 years ago you could have counted on one hand the amount of public opinion pollsters. Today, you are unable to go a week without seeing the results of new public opinion polls. In the mid 1970s, major TV networks combined resources with major national newspapers to produce public opinion polls. The results of these polls were displayed in the evening news. We are a polling society. o John F. Kennedy hired fifteen public opinion pollsters. o Jimmy Carter had a public opinion pollster on his staff. Essential Procedures that must be followed to get an accurate public opinion: 1. Pollsters take a sampling, or a representative sample, of public opinion. Reflects as accurately as possible the total population from which the sample is being taken. 2. Sample of 1,100 people. Each time a national poll is taken, the sample of 1,100 people is chosen completely at random. Everyone with a telephone has an equal chance of being contacted for that poll. Not perfectly representative, but 95% of the time the results accurately reflect the views of the nation. The margin of error is positive or negative three percent. The larger the sample, the smaller the margin of error. The smaller the sample, the larger the margin of error. 3. The questions presented in the poll must be worded as neutrally as possible. Nothing in the wording of a question should pressure the citizen to answer in a certain way. Why, even if the poll is accurate, must you be skeptical about the results? 1. Even with an accurate poll, the results are giving the public opinion at only one point in time. If asking the same questions over several months, one can be more confident in the results. Public opinion can be volatile – unstable and changing. 2. Depending upon the question, some people may only give the socially acceptable response to the question. They may answer the question the way they think they ought to rather than what their opinion really is. 3. If public opinion doesn’t necessarily equal informed public opinion on that issue. The representative sample may be uninformed. 4. The taking of a public opinion poll may cause some people to give an answer, whether or not they have an answer to give or an opinion on the subject. To attempt to prevent this issue, the “don’t know” option is often available in poll questions. Public Opinion: Do our leader listen?
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course POLS 102 taught by Professor Hammock during the Fall '08 term at WVU.

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Mechanisms by which individuals are tied to their...

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