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24 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Public Opinion

+what the public thinks.

+ It is the aggregation, or collection, of individual attitudes and beliefs on one or more issues at any given time.

Significance of Public opinion

Americans seem torn about the role of public opinion in government today. On the one hand, we want to believe that what we think matters, but on the other hand, we’d like to think that our elected officials are guided by unwavering standards and principles.

Public opinion polls

scientific efforts to measure that opinion—to estimate what an entire group of people thinks about an issue by asking a smaller sample of the group for their opinions.


+measure public attitude towards all sorts of things


-correctly: powerful tool in shaping campaign strategy

-biases: lead politicians to poor outcomes

*example romeny

key values for an ideal citizen

-knows how government works

-is tolerant

-participates in the system

Political socialization

public opinion polls can be misleading and can effect campaign strategy

-example: Romney

division in public

1.self interest

2.partisanship & ideology (liberal/conservative democrat/republican) (the more education someone has they are more tolerant, active in the system, vote, informed in politics)



6.race and ethnicity


8.geographic region

partisan sorting

average democrats and republics ideology are much further apart than before

marriage gap

different opinion by those who are remarried/widowed vs. those who have never been married

random sample

does not over represent any portion of the population and whose responses can therefore be safely generalized to the whole

sample bias

sample not chosen scientifically and has too many people in it from one portion of the population

sample error

number that indicates how reliable the polls is

types of polls

1.national polls

2. campaign polls

3.tracking polls

4.exit polls

5. psuedo polls

6. push polls

7.survey experiments

national polls

public opinion within a limited period of time

campaign polls

polls during a campaign

tracking polls

follows changes in attitude towards the candidate throughout ongoing set of interviews

exit polls

short questionnaires administered often by news outlet to sample people

SIG: does not match up with final vote count, has effect on people who have not voted yet


tell you only the opinions of that portion of the media outlet’s audience (self-selected in the first place by their choice of a particular outlet) who care enough to call in or click a mouse (self-selected in the second place by their willingness to expend effort).

PUSH polls

false or highly negative information, often in a hypothetical form, and ask respondents to react to it

survey experiments

to gauge and measure public opinion about elections or current events as to deepen our understanding of public attitudes, especially on controversial issues such as race, gender, and civil liberties, where respondents know what the socially acceptable answer to the survey questions is and so are less likely to disclose their true opinions.

rational ignorance

leave political information gathering to others

SIG: we are to busy with our lives to pay 100% attention

on-line processing

opinion made on the while we live our busy lives

two-step flow of information

we rely on opinion leaders who are like us but know more about politics

opinion leaders

people who are like us but have more knowledge about a subject