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35 Cards in this Set

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What is public opinion?
how people feel about things

pollsters measure public opinion about everything from TV programs to commercial products to political issues. these polls are funded and commissioned by networks, companies, and politicians b/c they seek public approval
Is public opinion uniform?
No- even a major TV show like the Super Bowl only attracts a (rather large) minority of Americans, therefore the opinions of those watching and not watching are going to be different
Who is the general public and what do they care about?
Americans are the general public and they care more about the political issues that affect their day-to-day lives directly
Who is the issue public?
a smaller group that has enough of an interest in a particular area to cause these voters to become more politically active -this can result in the issue becoming an important political issue
What is saliency?
the degree to which an issue is important for a particular individual or group (ex. Social Security has high saliency among senior citizens, but low saliency among young adults)
What is intensity?
it is the strength that people feel about a particular issue -a high intensity group can wield political influence far beyond their numbers
What is stability?
the changes in public opinion over time- support for democracy and a controlled free-market economy remains relatively stable, but other events, such as presidential approval ratings, change rather quickly
What are public opinion polls?
devices that measure public opinion frequently and directly- designed to determine public opinion by questioning a smaller group
What is random sampling?
a method that allows pollsters to poll a representative cross-section of the public
What are exit polls?
pollsters target voting districts that collectively represent the voting public and randomly poll voters who are leaving the voting place- this method prevents bias. if performed correctly, polls can measure 250 million Americans' opinions by polling 1,500 Americans
What details have to paid attention to by pollsters?
the questions must be carefully worded and generally be multiple choice rather than open-ended -closed-ended questions yield results that are more easily quantifiable, providing a more accurate read of the direction and intensity of public opinion
What is the sampling error?
it tells how far off the poll results may be- no poll can be 100% accurate
What is a cause of inaccurate poll results?
dishonesty- people don't want pollsters to think badly of them or they vote as they think they should, not as they will (ex. expressing support for a black candidate but then voting for a white candidate)
What is political socialization?
a process through which individuals develop thier political attitudes
What are some factors influence individual political beliefs?
family, friends, peers, school, religious insitutions, mass media, amount of higher education, real life experiences (usually experienced during adulthood)
What is an ideology?
a coherent set of thoughts and beliefs about politics and government
What is the conservative ideology?
individuals should be responsible for themselves and not rely on government assistance, oppose most federal regulations. social conservatives (right-to-lifers!) do support government action on social issues
What is the liberal ideology?
the government should be used to remedy the social and economic injustices of the marketplace, support gov. regulation of economy, support gov. efforts to redress past discriminations, believe in the separation of church and state, oppose school-sponsored prayer and bans on abortions
What are moderates?
moderates don't constitute a political ideology- they view themselves as pragmatists who apply common sense rather than philosophical principles to political problems
What effect does education level have on ideology?
the more education, the more likely a person holds liberal political positions- most highly educated people are more active in politics than others
What effect does race/ethnicity have on ideology?
minorities in the lower income levels (blacks, hispanics) more often support liberal social programs, but there are exceptions to this rule (Cubans are conservative), Americans of southern and eastern European descent are fiscally liberal (compared to British and French descendents) but socially more conservative
What effect does religion have on ideology?
Jews and African American Protestants tend to be liberal. Catholics (yeah!) lean toward left, but are socially conservative. devout white protestants tend to be more conservative
What effect does gender have on ideology?
women are overall more liberal than men
What effect does income level have on ideology?
richer Americans are more supportive of racial and sexual equality liberal goals, but less sympathetic to gov. social welfare goals. poorer Americans tend to be more conservative in everything except social welfare issues
What effect does region have on ideology?
Democratic candidates do well in the Midwest and East Coast as well as cities, Republicans candidates do well in the South; the West Coast is most polarized with different ideologies up and down the coast
What is the news media?
news broadcasts on TV and radio, newspapers, news magazines, magazine broadcast programs, newsmaker interview programs (ex. Larry King Live), political talk radio, websites, blogs, online forums; news media exposure has consistently increased
How does the media play a role in the relationship between the people and the government?
it acts as an intermediary between the two, constantly questioning the motives and purposes of gov. action, then reporting these findings
What is the public agenda?
news media decides which stories to highlight and which to ignore, placing stories continually at the front of the headlines and letting others die on the backburner has allowed the news media to play an important part in determining the relative importance of political issues
Does the news media have the power to alter public opinion?
it is unclear- usually only happens when news coverage is extensive and either mostly positive or mostly negative (examples include the positive feelings about the Gulf War and negative feelings about the Vietnam War due to constant negative images broadcast from Vietnam)
Are the news media biased?
Some reports claim that the news media injects thier own views into the reports, but most news organizations attempt to maintain integrity by remaining as objective as possible- but this isn't possible since the media has to cut out some stories and shorten others due to time constraints and potential lack of interest by viewers; another source of bias is where reporters get their sources (D.C. reporters are biased due to the fact that the government is their source of information)
What is public opinion?
how the general public feels about events and other things going on in the world today
What is the public agenda and how is it shaped?
the public agenda has to do with the importance of certain news items over other news items, and the news media helps to shape it through thier coverage of only certain stories and the fact that they return to some stories night after night helps turn those stories into a part of the public agenda
How is public opinion measured?
public opinion is measured through public opinion polls- if done correctly, the poll responses of 1,500 Americans can more or less reflect the views of 250 million Americans
What role does the media play in shaping public opinion?
the media covers stories that it feels the public ought to know about, and so the news media that Americans read shapes thier public opinion due to what they see, read, and hear and then they pass it on to friends and family, etc.
What effect does the media have on individual political beliefs and voting behavior?
what media a person chooses to take in influences what he or she knows about the world- this then affects individual political beliefs which helps form voting behavior (generally a person votes for a candidate who holds similar political beliefs)