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Week 8 notes

by: Kirsten Swikert

Week 8 notes Political Science 110

Kirsten Swikert
GPA 3.2

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class notes from 4-5 and 4-7
American National Government
Jeffrey Budziak
Class Notes
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kirsten Swikert on Saturday April 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Political Science 110 at Western Kentucky University taught by Jeffrey Budziak in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Western Kentucky University.

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Date Created: 04/09/16
The Fundamentals of Public Opinion The Role of the Public Opinion in a Democracy • Definition: collective attitudes and belies of individuals on issue (key word being collective) o Important because: group influence could change opinion, • How do you typically think of public opinion? o Is this individual or collective? o The case of deliberative polling Political Socialization Process • Socialization: process by which individuals develop opinions • Sources of opinion (socializing agents) o Family: 80% of individuals share the same political affiliations as their parents o Education: type, quality, quantity o Social groups: friend groups can frequently have just as great an influence as family o Genetics: opinions of fraternal twins correlate at .44 while opinions of identical twins correlate at .66 o Religion: regular religious service can shape individual opinion Limitations of Public Opinion • Public opinion is important for democracy o Has important limits o May be based on limited political knowledge • 90% of college graduates say representatives are more conservative • Potential explanations for low levels of political knowledge o Time: learning about politics takes a lot of time and effort o Interest: some people are uninterested in government o Stability: American politics, compared to many countries, is highly stable o Satisfaction: if we are happy are we less likely to be involved Measuring Public Opinion • Does the US spend too much or too little on foreign aid? o Less than 1% • Sampling error= +/- 2.5% • The process o Standardized surveys are typically how public opinion is gauged o Primary survey medium: phone calls § Random digit dialing: automated machines randomly dial numbers from a determined sampling frame § Sampling frame: might be a phone book or predetermined list of numbers • Important concepts for measuring o Population: all units the researcher is interested in understanding § Ex: US population, WKU students o Sample: all of the people from that population that participates in the survey § Almost all opinion polls rely on samples o Achieving a representative sample § Quota sampling: individuals are broken to mutually exclusive groups and selected based on their characteristics § Random sampling (probability sampling): all individuals relevant to the question having an equal likelihood at being sampled • Start measuring of how unlikely • Sampling error: random error caused by sampling rather than talking to the entire population (census) • You want about 1000 because more is not worth it (500=4.5%) o Selection bias: not everyone has an equal chance of being sampled § Biggest potential problem is generating a sample for a survey • How can this affect poll results? • Ex: PEW Research Center assessing the cell phone challenge o Measurement error: created as a result of poor construction of the tools designed to measure public opinion § 2 general types: • Question wording effects: the language used in the question leads to measurement error • Question order effects


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