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FSU POS 1041 - Final Review

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Political Science 1041 Final ReviewPublic OpinionPublic Opinion – Opinions that the government finds necessary to heed• Views prevalent among the general public• Collective attitudes of citizens, what people think• Every government has to pay attention to public opinion in some fashion• Democracies find prudent to heed: potential voters and those who can sway potential voters because an election is coming• Public opinion has an affect on public policy• Public opinion attracts all this attention because of its effect on political behavior, mostly voting, which is the main political act of the great majority of citizens Confounding Problems • There are “multiple publics” - questions the idea of a singular, liberal, public realm where all citizens come together to discuss matters of common interest and concern• Unstable and shifting opinion• Political ignorance• Information shortcutter cue - If you know someone is a democrat, you can make a vote – don’t need to spend time watching the news when you can just go along with someone else’s vote just because they are the same partyMeasuring Public Opinion• Public opinion polls• Scientific polling – tool for systematically investigating the opinions of ordinary people, based on random sampleso Public sentiments, such as marches, rallies, and riots, could not be taken at face value because they said nothing bout the views of the majority that stayed home• Sampling Theory – sample of individuals selected by chance from any population is “representative” of that population (with a margin of error)o Typically a thousand people are in a random sample survey• Sample Accuracy – how well it “represents”o Way it is selected: pure random sample is besto Sample size: larger the sample (if random), greater the accuracy• Sampling error/margin of error - inversely related to sample size – the larger the sample size, the larger the margin of errorRandom sampling and non-random sampling• Random sampling - subjects all have an equal chance of being selected out of the population being researchedo Random selection and random assignment for a survey that leads to more accurate results compared to the populationo Are illustrative of the entire population• Non-random sampling - A sample of units where the selected units in the sample have an unknown probability of being selected and where some units of the target population may even have no chance at all of being in the sampleo Not reliable• Literary Digest example – sent out 10 million postcard ballots to names and addresses taken from telephone brooks, voter registration lists, club rosters, and lists of automobile owners and mail-order customers. • The returned cards split 57 percent for Republican Landon and 43 percent to Democrat Roosevelt who was running for a second term. On Election Day Roosevelt defeated Landon, 62 percent to 38 percent• Sample was badly biased – the rich, those who could afford cars and telephones were more likely to vote Republican• They left out the middle/lower working class who didn’t have phones or cars• Gallup Poll followed more sophisticated sampling principles and drawing on a mush smaller sample, accurately predicted Roosevelt’s landslide victorySLOP Surveys – Self-Selected Listener Opinion Poll• Based on a sample of individuals who choose to answer a poll or survey vs. a random sample of the population, which is based on the variables of a population• An example of a SLOP poll would be choosing or declining to be interviewed in a survey while you are walking through the mall• Because the SLOP poll is self selective, there is no way that the poll will hold any real weight or represent the whole population, because we only get information on those who choose to do an interview versus the people who decline interviews• A better way to conduct a poll is through random samplingShapes of Public Opinion• Normal – bee-curve shapedo A symmetrical bell shaped distribution of opinions centered on a single mode, or most frequent response• Skewed – everyone is giving the same answero An estimate trickle but generally bail shaped distribution of opinions; its a nod or most frequent response, lies off to one side• Bi-modal – people are giving two answers frequently at the same level (2 peaks)o Addition vision of opinions that shows two responses been chosen about as frequently as each otherProblems and limitations with polls• Non-attitudes / doorstep opinion – the respondent has never given a moment's thought to the issue, but now that a question has been asked, they will give somekind of response that might not be their real opinion, they say it just to give an answero When people are expected to complete a survey, they find a question they don’t completely understand and just answer it with a random response or opinion• Illusion of saliency – The impression conveyed by polls that something is important to the public when actually it is not• Leading questions – A question that prompts or encourages the desired answero Attempt to guide the respondent’s answero Question wording and ordering• Push polling – the use of loaded questions in a supposedly objective telephone opinion poll during a political campaign in order to bias voters against an opposing candidateo When polls are conducted to sway public opinion rather than to collect and analyze response data, by spreading rumors, etc through the pollo Can be used to shape the opinion of the person responding to the pollGinsberg’s concerns with polling• Can’t truly be a Democratic development• Says polling makes public opinion a subsidized matter and it is now based on attitude and not behavior• Polling has transformed public opinion:• No longer a product of the efforts of concerned individuals• Presentation through attitudes rather than behaviors• Constrained responses rather than spontaneous assertionsFiorina’s Culture War Arguments• According to Fiorina, most Americans are not bitterly and deeply divided• Fiorina “The simple truth is that there is no Culture War in the United States”• Red/Blue States are closely connected on many issues and divided on some• Nothing to garner a “culture war” or “polarization”• Americans are closely divided, but not deeply divided• Many of us are uncertain about potentially divisive issues (abortion)• Most of us are moderate in views and


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