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Public Opinion in the United States


agenda setting

process by which the media determines what issues people think about and are concerned about

bully pulpit

president's unique ability to command the attention of the public and shape public opinion


proportions of various groupings in a population based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, education, and income

focus group

small group of people who represent a chosen subset of the population who discuss their beliefs and preferences in a moderated setting

issue poll

opinion poll designed to measure the public's feelings on specific issues

job-approval rating

measure of how well the public thinks a politician is performing

margin of error

statistical measurement of the potential inaccuracy of a poll's findings

political socialization

process by which an individual's political views, beliefs, and attitudes are influenced by different factors throughout life

public opinion

collective expression of the views, beliefs, and attitudes of a group of people on a particular issue or set of issues

public opinion poll

instrument that questions selected respondents to assess their views about candidates, a public official's job performance, or issues

push poll

opinion poll that includes questions or statements aimed at pushing respondents away from the candidate or issue that the group paying for the poll opposes

rally effect

phenomenon in which approval of the job a president is doing tends to increase at times of war or international crisis, as the public rallies around the flag in the person of the president

random sample

group of people selected from a statistical population in which all selected have an equal probability of being chosen

representative sample

randomly chosen group of people, all with an equal probability of being chosen, who reflect the demographics of the population

town hall

meeting at which members of the public can ask questions to or share opinions with a politician about certain issues

tracking poll

opinion poll that surveys respondents on their beliefs and preferences over a period of time