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GVPT170 American Government Lecture Notes February 10,Wed

by: Ellie

GVPT170 American Government Lecture Notes February 10,Wed gvpt170

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About this Document

PUBLIC OPINION AND INTRO TO POLLING.Detailed lecture notes with examples and the analogies Dr. Miler uses in class.
American Government
Dr. Kris Miler
Class Notes
American Government, Politics, polling, public opinion
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ellie on Wednesday February 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to gvpt170 at University of Maryland taught by Dr. Kris Miler in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 47 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at University of Maryland.


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Date Created: 02/24/16
A. Sources of Public Opinion: Social Groups  We look at the social groups because these members spend quality time together every so often. Thus, these groups impact their members through shared experience  People rely on others’ opinions that they are surrounded with (especially when they are making decisions EXAMPLE: Deciding who to vote)  The groups have different understanding of life. People get together according to their: 1. Levels of education Levels of income/ class 2. Categories of religion Categories of race/ ethnicity Categories of region 3. Groups of age Groups of Gender B.Sources of Public Opinion: Leaders  Political party leaders  Journalists  Activist leaders SHOULD WE TRUST PUBLIC OPINION? THEORIES: 1. Public Opinion Is Uninformed:  People might answer the questionnaires just because they feel like they are ought to do so even when they don’t know anything about the issue  People have very little factual information  People only know about one specific issue and don’t know about others. So according to Dr. Miler, even when they are well-informed in one/two topics: a. The question might be distinct from their interest and/ or knowledge b. We start asking, IS THE PUBLIC REALLY UNINFORMED? - ISSUE POLITICS: People are only partially uninformed on some issues - LATENT OPINIONS: People form opinions on the spot. latent opinions are constructed only when needed, not well thought-out beforehand. - HEURISTICS (SHORT-CUT): Psychologically people tend to us short cuts instead of complete analyses of information. EXAMPLE : “I like Ted Cruz’s opinion on the Medicare he is very right” WHEN IT COMES TO ANOTHER TOPIC ON ANOTHER POLICY  “He was right about Medicare he must be right about gun control too. So I stand where ever he is standing on gun control”. Some people argue that short cut is still a rational process but others argue that it is still being partially uninformed. In the example we see that the voter had info on the Medicare debate but he was clueless about the gun control debate- he still stated his opinion.  Uninformed people’s impact on the polls: Policy makers can be misled 2. Public Opinion Is Unconnected  Definition of “ideology”: System of beliefs in which one or more general organizing principles connect your views on a wide range of particular issues  Having an ideology was the big debate in the 60s and in the 70s.  ANOLOGY THAT THE PROFESSOR GAVE IN THE CLASS: “Ideology is the tie that puts bunch of sticks (sticks being your opinion on different issues and on different policies) in a neat bundle. So when I pick one of the sticks I can have a pretty good assumption on what other sticks look like”  Your ideology will most likely sticks with you for your entire life. From young age until you get older it tends to not to change. 3. Public opinion is Inconsistent  It’s common to find that public opinion supports incompatible policies or positions. Public Opinion:TODAY  Question: Is the polarization increased?  Answer: Yes, Public Opinion today shows the trend that is moving away from moderate positions and moving towards either end of the political spectrum. Public Opinion: Polling  If we didn’t do polling the other alternative would be to focus on groups but it would take even more effort time and money.  The purpose of polling is to accurately measure public opinion How polls are used? 1) News items: Emphasis on trend and on the momentum (EXAMPLE : Marco Rubio’s close 3 on Iowa) 2) Political Strategy: Campaigns’ decisions are set on the polls almost entirely. Polls help to shape the direction the campaign is going. They are the #1 communication tool between the candidate and his/her voters. Types of Scientific Polls:  Exit polls  Phone surveys  Mail surveys  In person interviews (Time consuming+expensive BUT the results are high quality)  Internet surveys (Sample is a problem in this type)


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