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UF / Political Science / POS 2041 / What is the purpose of public opinion?

What is the purpose of public opinion?

What is the purpose of public opinion?


School: University of Florida
Department: Political Science
Course: American Federal Government
Professor: Beth rosenson
Term: Fall 2015
Tags: americangovernment, Politics, and Government
Cost: 50
Name: Exam 2 Study Guide
Description: These notes cover what's going to be on Exam 2, I am going to update it when we receive the last set of notes.
Uploaded: 03/17/2018
5 Pages 133 Views 3 Unlocks

March 13, 2018

What is the purpose of public opinion?

POS2041 Exam 2 Study Guide

Chapter 6: Public Opinion and the Media  

Public Opinion

I. What is public opinion?  

A. Public opinion is the citizen’s views on politics and government actions.  II. Why does public opinion matter?  

A. Citizens’ political actions are driven by their opinions. 

1. Voting, contributing to campaigns, writing letters to senators, activism, etc.

B. Examining public opinion helps explain the behavior of political candidates and  parties.  

1. Politicians seek out public opinion to know what they need to support.

C. Public opinion is a key to understanding what motivates citizens and political  officials.  

Why does public opinion matter?

III. If public opinion is uninformed, how much easier is it to manipulate?  A. Implications of the definition show that government should not need all opinions.  

B. Public opinion is important because people need guidance to follow and form  their own opinions.  

C. It is easy to manipulate because people always want to feel like a part of a  thought, so citizens easily latch on to opinions they do not know enough  about.  We also discuss several other topics like What is the process through which evolution occurs?

Where do opinions come from?  

I. Underlying attitudes  

A. Opinions are expressions of underlying attitudes, individuals vary widely.  II. Political Socialization  

A. Agents of Socialization  

1. Family


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2. Pop culture  

Where do opinions come from?

3. Grade school and college education Don't forget about the age old question of What program is believed to have first been used in 1974 by bell labs technicians?
If you want to learn more check out How does an adaptation affect the fitness of a species?
Don't forget about the age old question of How is chemical structure of protein different from cho and fats?

4. Major events

B. Generational effects  

III. Life Stages

A. We will reach a point where different politically affected issues matter to us.  IV. Partisanship

A. Psychological Phenomenon

B. Practical aspects  

1. Some people only use it as a shorthand cue when election season is here, for  others it is a personal identity that influences their decisions.  

V. Party Identification and Race/Ethnicity

A. White voters lean towards the Republican Party  

B. Black voters lean towards the Democrat Party  If you want to learn more check out What is private for profit?

VI. Party Identification and Age

A. Millennial prefer “independent” or Democrat

Key Terms

mass survey: a way to measure public opinion by interviewing a large sample of the  population. We also discuss several other topics like What are conservative and non-conservative forces?

population: the group of people whom a researcher or pollster wants to study, such as  evangelicals, senior citizens, or Americans.  

sampling error: the predicted difference between the average opinion in the  population, sometimes called margin of error.  

sample: within a population, the group of people surveyed in order to gauge the whole  population’s opinion. These are used because it would be impossible to survey they  entire population  


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Chapter 7: Political Parties  

Political Parties in the USA

I. Parties, defined:  

A. Burke: people who come together over a policy idea/ideological platform, then  stayed together  

B. Down: team of men who are united under one to gain political power. A  pragmatic institution.  

C. The first parties were thanks to Alexander Hamilton: he saw the expediency of  political parties, that a coalition of supporters for ideas was good.

D. A change in the size or composition of the party coalitions or in the nature of the  issues that divide the parties is called realignment.

Incentives for Party Building

I. Need for Organization

A. Principal body in each party organization is called the national committee.  

1. National Committee: consists of representatives from state party  organizations, which are made up of party organizations at the city, county,  and town levels.  

II. To build stable legislative and electoral alliances  

III. To mobilize voters

IV. To develop new electoral techniques.  

V. To use party labels and enforce collective responsibility

A. Parties stand for different things so when used to label a candidate, it gives a  shorthand idea of what that individual may stand for.  

Basic Features of the Party System

I. Electoral rules favor the “two-party” system (Dems and Reps)

II. Decentralized, fragmented party coalitions.  

III. Professional politicians  


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Key Terms  

party organization: a specific political party’s leaders and workers at the national,  state, and local levels.  

party in government: the group of officeholders who belong to a specific political party  and were elected as candidates of that party.  

party in the electorate: the group of citizens who identify with a specific political party.  

party system: periods in which the names of the major political parties, their  supporters, and the issues dividing them have remained relatively stable.  

caucus: a local meeting in which party members select a party’s nominee for the  general election.  

party platform: a set of objectives outlining the party’s issue positions and priorities.  (candidates don’t have to support this)  

Chapter 9: Interest Groups  

What are interest groups?  

I. Interest groups are an organization of people who share common political interests  and aim to influence public policy by electioneering and lobbying.  

II. Lobbying is the efforts to influence public policy through contact with public officials  on behalf of an interest group.  

A. Lobbying is a channel of communication to your representatives

1. Also a channel for participation through groups, gives a stronger role in  government.  

2. Groups can figure out what’s on top of the agenda and give Congress the  most important thing to focus on.  

3. Groups can enhance political efficiency, learn about different issues, build  networks across different classes, races, etc.  

4. Can help the government rebuild, often for free

III. Lobbying to Affect Policy  

A. Inside Game


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1. Earmarks: banned, but they are special deals for certain people within  government to enact policy.

2. Persuasion and access

3. Lobbying within  

a) Congress: most porous  

b) The Executive Branch: hard to get into  

c) The Judiciary: least accessible  

B. Outside Game  

1. Socialize (expand the scope of) conflict aka make the public aware of issues  so more action is taken.  

2. Grassroots vs. Astroturf  

a) Grassroots: grown from bottom up, people ready to take action b) Astroturf: more modern, uses social media to get traction

3. Mobilize the movement

How Inequality Affects Representation

I. Representational Inequality  

A. People are more middle class, so they have more time and money to work for  interest groups

1. This means that poorer classes are not as able to take time away from their  responsibilities to lobby.  

II. Resource Inequality  

A. Tops in Lobbying  

1. Business and medical interest groups have the most resources  III. Access Inequality

A. Iron Triangles vs. Issue Networks  

1. Iron Triangle: small group with no room for broad representation or access  2. Issue Networks are permeable


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