POLS 1101 Chapter 6 Reading Summary
POLS 1101 Chapter 6 Reading Summary POLS 1101 08
Popular in American Government
Popular in Political Science & Int'l Aff. Department
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The Power of Presidential Approval George W. Bush (2001–2009) Approval of 90% public, but ended with 20% which is the lowest polling since 1930s With high support of public, Bush was able to get Congress to agree to nearly everything he wanted. passed the PATRIOT Act, which expanded the powers of the federal government in the area of national security approved his call for a new cabinetlevel Department of Homeland Security Obama started with high public approval approval rating Job performance evaluation for the president, Congress, or other public official or institution that is generated by public opinion polls and is typically reported as a percentage. Millennials clearly have a more favorable assessment of Obama then nonmillennials “honeymoon” start of good public support, but as time unfolds, ppl become more unsatisfied Public Opinion Public opinion Aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs about certain issues or officials. Elections are often and gives only directions. public opinion polls are the most reliable indicators of what Americans are thinking Other sources of public opinion are the size of rallies and protests, the tone of letters sent to elected officials or newspapers, the amount of money given to particular causes or candidates, the content of newspaper editorials, and information gleaned from daytoday conversations with average Americans. 2 most common efforts to measure public’s support on government: - whether the people trust their government - (efficacy) whether they believe their participation in government matters efficacy Extent to which people believe their actions can affect public affairs and the actions of government. - 1/3 of Americans felt that their opinions mattered to government. Political trust Extent to which people believe the government acts in their best interests. Generally declined; in 2014, 15% of public trusted “the government in Washington to do what is right.” Gauging Public Opinion in the Past In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the contents of letters, the sizes of crowds at rallies, and people’s willingness to sign petitions were used to gauge public opinion. George Washington (1789–97) literally mounted his horse and rode into the countryside to talk to the people. Abraham Lincoln “public opinion baths.” William McKinley (1897–1901) had his staff clip newspaper articles and put the clippings in a folder at night so he could read them to gauge the public’s thinking. Franklin Roosevelt also paid close attention to newspapers. politicians had biased readings of public opinion because the views they heard tended not to represent the people equally. the most activist and literate elements of society were defining public opinion. straw polls, for example, sought to predict the outcome of elections. Ex) not really correct in Andrew Jackson because opinion of newspaper readers and concluded that Andrew Jackson would get 63% of the vote but he only got 40%. Ex) biases in prediction of Alf Landon winning over Franklin Roosevelt by 57% because people who owned automobiles and had telephones were wealthier than average Americans and were more likely to be Republicans. random sample Method of selection that gives everyone who might be selected to participate in a poll an equal chance to be included. George Gallup “father of modern polling” bestknown name in polling today remains the Gallup Poll. Although he used a sample of five thousand, he correctly predicted the outcome of the 1936 election by using a random sample. The advent of scientific polling made it possible to assess the opinions of the public with some degree of ease and accuracy. Types of Polls The typical size of a sample survey is one thousand people (varies 5001500ppl) Having a representative sample means that everyone in that population has an equal chance of being asked to participate in the poll. Robopoll (automated telephone polls) is on the rise. It’s cheaper but not very accurate. Internet polls is the latest platform, but the fact that older and poorer Americans may lack access to computers introduces bias. tracking polls Polls that seek to gauge changes of opinion of the same sample size over a period of time, common during the closing months of presidential elections. exit poll Polls that survey a sample of voters immediately after exiting the voting booth to predict the outcome of the election before the ballots are officially counted. Ex) exit poll took place in Florida during the 2000 for presidential election between George Bush and Albert Gore Jr. Push polls Polls that are designed to manipulate the opinions of those being polled. Ex) Interviewers of George Bush had called people to ask if they knew that McCain was a “cheat” and a “liar.” Errors in poll confidence interval Statistical range with a given probability that takes random error into account. Likely 95%. If sampling error is ±4 percent, and 65% supported abortion. With 95 percent certainty, the actual amount of public support is somewhere between 61 percent and 69 percent. wording of the question can introduce bias. Nonattitudes Sources of error in public opinion polls in which individuals feel obliged to give opinions when they are unaware of the issue or have no opinions about it. Social and Political Environment Socialization Impact and influence of one’s social environment on the views and attitudes one carries in life, a primary source of political attitudes. Independents Individuals who do not affiliate with either of the major political parties. Recent research offers some tantalizing hints that genetics may shape political views. between the ages of 18 to 24 where people’s worldviews begin to crystallize and shape how they view work, family, and politics. Major events like the Great Depression can change an entire generation’s thinking about politics. During the Great Depression, Republican was in power and for the first time Democrat became majority party. Millennial Generation born between 1982 and 2003. Millennials seem to be more trusting of government than previous generations were. There is also evidence from 2012 that suggests this group is less patient than previous generations and has “a thirst for instant gratification.” Selfinterest and Rationality selfinterest Concern for one’s own advantage and wellbeing. Ex) as income rises, the chance of someone being a Republican increase. The Republicans have pursued tax policies that protect individual wealth, while the Democrats pursue tax policies that tax the wealthy at higher rates to pay for social programs that benefit the less wealthy. Rationality Acting in a way that is consistent with one’s selfinterest. Elite Elites (leaders of opinion) can influence citizens if two conditions are met: first, citizens must be exposed to the message, and, second, they must be open to it. First, massive change in public opinion is not likely because the public is not made up of puppets. Second, elites’ ability to change public opinion is a product of the intensity and consistency of the message. Partisanship Party identification (=partisanship) Psychological attachment to a political party; partisanship. The view that Americans are mostly Independents has largely been viewed as a myth. Ideology Political ideology Set of coherent political beliefs that offers a philosophy for thinking about the scope of government. Liberals (usually Democrats) Individuals who have faith in government to improve people’s lives, believing that private efforts are insufficient. In the social sphere, liberals usually support diverse lifestyles and tend to oppose any government action that seeks to shape personal choices. Conservatives (usually Republic) Individuals who distrust government, believing that free markets offer better ways than government involvement to improve people’s livelihood. In the social sphere, conservatives have more faith in government’s ability to enforce traditional values. Moderates Individuals who are in the middle of the ideological spectrum and do not hold consistently strong views about whether government should be involved in people’s lives. levels of conceptualization Measure of how ideologically coherent individuals are in their political evaluations. only about 12 percent of the public viewed the political parties in ideological terms, whereas more than 40 percent judged the parties by the groups (such as social classes or racial and ethnic groups) they were thought to represent rather than the policies they pursued. Is the Public informed? A democracy depends on having an engaged and wellinformed electorated Should these data be taken as evidence that the public is not able to meet its democratic responsibilities? First, the public, collectively, seems to make reasonable choices. Second, although individuals do not know all the details about candidates’ views on all the issues, they do tend to know candidates’ views on the issues that are salient to them. Third, the public can learn quickly if an issue is salient enough to them and receives attention in the news media. Fourth, public opinion is more stable than is suggested by the shifting answers people give to the same question just a few months apart. Finally, personal decision making is not always based on complete information, so why should political decision making be expected to conform to rational models that scholars use? Is the Public polarized? Polarization Condition in which differences between parties and/or the public are so stark that disagreement breaks out, fueling attacks and controversy. In the 1970s, the parties adopted positions that were closer to the middle; forty years later, their positions are more at the extremes. In fact, Democrats and Republicans disagree on more issues now than at any time since the end of the Civil War. Some scholars have argued that the public has polarized along with parties, but there is also evidence that the public is more moderate, even though the choices the parties offer them are not. optimistic view, arguing that increasing polarization will activate people’s interest in elections, which in turn will spur more interest in politics. Negative view, worried that polarization will yield more personal attacks and greater incivility. Group Differences Socioeconomic status combined measure of occupation, education, income, wealth, and relative social standing or lifestyle. Reagan Democrats began to draw support from workingclass people who supported a conservative social agenda and a decreased role for government welfarebased programs. Age In general, older citizens are more socially conservative than are younger citizens, and there is evidence that people tend to become more conservative as they age. Religion Protestants are more conservative than Catholics or Jews. Muslims have been found to be more liberal than the general population and significantly more liberal than Protestants and Catholics. Gender gender gap Differences in the political attitudes and behavior of men and women. women are more liberal than men. Women tend to favor more spending on social programs than men Race and ethnicity The term Latino is used to describe a broad array of groups that do not necessarily share common experiences, so opinion among Latinos tends to be divided. members of the Hispanic baby boomer and silent generations are most likely to identify with the Democratic Party (70 percent) while the Millennial generation shows the lowest, though still strong, level of attachment (61 percent). Democrats by Asian Americans is on the rise Education The upward of education has been continuous since the end of World War II in 1945 for two key reasons. The first is that more young people have access to a college education. The second is what is called “generational replacement.” Individuals with a higher level of education generally take a more liberal position on a variety of social and economic issues, ranging from government spending to defense policy to gay marriage