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Public Opinion

by: Berenice Terry

Public Opinion P SC 3423

Berenice Terry
GPA 3.51

Tyler Johnson

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Tyler Johnson
Class Notes
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This 13 page Class Notes was uploaded by Berenice Terry on Monday October 26, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to P SC 3423 at University of Oklahoma taught by Tyler Johnson in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see /class/229328/p-sc-3423-university-of-oklahoma in Political Science at University of Oklahoma.

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Date Created: 10/26/15
Week 11 Genetics and Opinion Research Blocks nursery school study 0 Had teachers observe 128 children at age 3 and again at age 4 Observations based on a standardized test on personality social interactions Tracked down 95 of128 and asked them to place themselves on a 5point spectrum Also asked questions on issues tolerance for inequality political activism o What predicted conservatism being uncomfortable with uncertainty self control neatness quietness o What predicted liberalism expressiveness energy talkativeness openness in expressing negativity curiosity o Are these genetic in some way Berinsky most common ways to studying biological bases of behavior are using twins we can estimate how much of the variation comes from 1 Biological forces 2 The environments experience that the twins share 3 The environmental experiences that are unique to a given individual Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research examines 1400 sets of twins 0 Identical twins more likely to be ideologically similar that fraternal twins differences clearer in male sets Thomas Bouchard replicates this on 132 sets of twins separated at birth 0 Identical twin ideologies correlate at 6 fraternal twin ideologies not significantly related University College MRI study 0 Conservative students larger right amygdala related to less emotional resp 0 Liberal students larger anterior cingulate Berinsky all personality traits have been found to have a biological basis Big Five trait dimensions heritability levels have been estimated to be as high as between approximately 6 and 8 In other words a majority of the variation in personality across a population re ects the in uence of biology 0 Personality traits and opinion research Personalities are thought to be relatively enduring and are not changing from day to day quotBig Five personality Psychological research provides a wellestablished and straightforward means to explore the possible effects ofpersonality on various aspects of human behavior 0 O openness to experience new experiences v uncreative I High exhibit imagination curiosity and analytical skill and they seek information and engagement of all sorts These individuals are open to try new things and encounter new ideas I High negatively correlated with conservativeness o C conscientiousness dependableself discipline v disorganized I High tend to be known as quothardworkingquot quotperseveringquot Tend to be cautious and risk averse I High correlated to conservatism o E eXtraversion sociable active V quiet and shy Tends to predict civic engagement such as participation in political discussion and attending meetings and rallies whereas effect on political attitudes is less common I Rarely found to be linked to ideology o A agreeableness criticalquarrelsome v generouswarm I Small and statistically insignificant in relation to predicting ideology o N neuroticism emotional stability anxiousupset v calm Proves to be related to ideology but the effect is less than onethird as large as those for openness and conscientiousness o Berinsky 0 Answer to O and C questions and where you fit on the CL spectrum and how you feel about same seX marriage 0 O and C are better predictors than EAN 0 Some say these are not just American constructs and that there are viability across many nations 0 McCre and Iuri Allik conscientiousness and eXtraversion correlate with proximity to the equator o Mondak and Bibbing openness and conscientiousness linked with ideology attitudes on samesex marriage Trust social capital and impacts 0 Trust 0 Measured by 4 specific questions 1 How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always most of the time or only some of the time 2 Do you think that people in government waste a lot of the money we pay in taxes waste some ofit or don t waste very much ofit 3 Would you say the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves or that it is run for the benefit of all the people 4 Do you think that quite a few of the people running the government are crooked not very many are or do you think hardly any of them are crooked 0 Systems work better when citizens trust others trust government I Trust I Confidence I Supportapproval I Try to tease out differences between these words 0 High amounts of trust satisfaction with current methods 0 Opposite of trust cynicism I Arthur Miller Distrust in government means for citizens Some might prefer that a new political system replace the current one Some distrust might be associated with the partisan hopes of voting out the rascals Others it may indicate a sense of enduring inequities in government decisions and outputs o Leaders have to be free to make decisions 0 When Figure out what district thinks trust is high authorities feel freedom They don t feel like there is a surprise around the corner for them 0 Trends 0 When Declines in all 4 measures from 19641980 Scandals Watergate etc have effects on peoples feelings about the system Perks up in 1984 due to Reagan he was seen as an inspiring and strong leader and his improved national economy This contrasted with Jimmy Carter due to the differing personas of these two Declines again through 1992 Poorly performing economy during George H W Bush Rises across 1990 s through 2004 then starts to drop again 20042008 declines because quotperfect storm of conditions dismal economy financial meltdown of 08 an unhappy public bitter partisanbased backlash and epic discontent with congress and elected officials healthcare reform that had just ended Katrina response Iraq IMPORTANT Since fewer people care about the economy when times are good trust increases less in periods ofprosperity than it decreases in periods ofweakness Trust is not only related to economy but also foreign affairs issues Such as the rally around the president during times of crisis or threat trust declines People turn to quick fixes direct legislation term limits Interesting link between trust taX law Lower turnout People do not think that politics is a good career for their children Lower efficacy 0 Sources of trust Realworld events and government activities US military involvement abroad and presidential scandals Evaluations of personal characteristics of the president seen as likable down to earth etc Jimmy Carter seen as weak and lacking in selfconfidence Reagan seen as strong and inspiring Evaluations of governmental policymaking across many other domains especially public policies I As parties drifted more to extremes centrist citizen felt more removed from the parties goals and who trusted government less Social Trust 0 Trust in other people 0 Linked to participation charity Social Capital refers to connections among individuals social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them 0 Two broad components I Civic engagement activities intended to solve public or community problems I Interpersonal trust the degree to which people think others can be trusted are fair and are helpful 0 Connections between individuals lead to norms of reciprocity and trust If you scratch my back I ll scratch yours 0 Benefits our personal interests quotprivate good 0 Benefits the world around us quotpublic good 0 Political Groups I Membership in chapterbased civic associations parentteacher association American Legion Iaycees Declining now I National mass membership organizations Sierra club and National Wildlife Federation have seen increases but these are clubs that don t meet They usually entail sending in money 0 Apolitical Changes I Social visiting declining card playing league bowling spending time with neighbors Putnum s quotbowling alone I Family dinners less common fast food restaurants up sit down restaurants going down I Charitable giving declining o What happened I Evolution new ways of doing these things why go to a club meeting if you can do it online I Too much bonding not enough bridging 0 Means that you may think about your social lives and how often you are meeting new people vs having a close group of friends who you do everything with 0 College is a time for bridging I Linked to television 0 Is it disappearing I Answer probably not I We re just arriving at the sum in a different way 0 EX Explosion of singleissue interest groups 0 EX Technological effects 0 Less formal groups coffee clubs book clubs etc I That said still implications on political world Impacts for trust For Arthur Miller a sustained decline in public trust suggests an unhealthy democracy Longterm decline in trust might lead citizens to demand radical change to the democratic political system Iack Citrin instead tendency to demean politics is a tradition and it more symbolic than anything else Similar to saying quotkill the umpire at a baseball game Bloodthirsty rhetoric threatens neither the life expectancy of umpires nor the future of the national pastime Despite the sustained low levels ofpublic trust there is little evidence that the serious consequences predicted by Miller and others have resulted I Public levels ofpatriotism remain high I Support for antidemocratic measures and activities have not noticeable increased I Pleas for radical changes to the governmental system are uncommon Citrin is not fully correct either I lower levels of trust lead to poorer evaluations ofpresidential support and less support for the institutions of government thus making it more challenging for political leaders to govern Hetherington s argument declining public trust has contributed to the increase in conservative public policies adopted by the national government because liberal solutions to public problems tend to involve government Such as federal involvement to prevent racial discrimination subsidies to fight poverty etc Some have argued that public distrust is a good thing so we should not worry Suspicion of those in power can be healthy for democracy I Declining trust has contributed to inclusion ofnew groups into democratic decisionmaking I Movements such as women s movement the civil rights movement and the environmental movement rose up to challenge existing power arrangements 0 Impacts for social capital Recent declines in social capital have contributed to the lower levels of trust in government witnessed over the past few decades Compared with states with low social capital those with high levels contained less violent crime better environments for children lower infant mortality rates lower high school drop out rates fewer children living in poverty so on healthier citizens and improved status for women When social capital is low inability of blacks in Mississippi Delta to coordinate wit white civic organizations due to white resistance has contributed to the failure to reduce poverty among black population even though more of the local elected officials in this region are now black 0 O O O O O O O 0 Week 12 Support for institutions 0 Difference between diffuse and specific 0 Diffuse questions refereeing to the institutions themselves I Trust in how we pass laws in the country etc 0 Specific questions referring to the people running these institutions I How this person is doing their job in this moment 0 Supporting the system but maybe not the people currently in office 0 Institutions over time 0 Supreme court gets top approval benefits from distance majesty I Average of 33 percent between 19732010 All time high support 1991 39 percent had great deal of confidence Lowest 1980 26 percent felt that way There are ideological differences in Supreme Court but it is all behind closed doors Hearings are not televised Executive BranchPresident has tools to boost himself but takes heat for everything regardless of true culpability o Campaigning 0 But can sometimes take blame for things he has no control over Average of 18 percent 39733910 Highest in 1973 29 percent ltDuring Watergate no data to tell if higher before Lowest 1996 10 percent 0 Rough on congress no one stands up for it members run against it It is an open institution public hates it bc it is public the gridlock the bickering the con ict the compromises I Average of only 14 percent between 19732010 I Highest 1973 at 24 percent I Lowest 1993 at 7 percent 0 What shapes approval 0 Outputs ability to pass laws ideology of decision ability to get campaign ideas through congress 0 National conditions economic ratings with approval 0 Evens rally around the ag scandal events have ability in ate or depress approval Fundamentals of democracy 0 Four fundamentals 0 Trust I Trust fellow citizens I Trust government I Not fear retribution what happens ifI go against government 0 Tolerance I Accepts opposing points ofview Difficult to measure because situations change Support quotrulesquot of how government works Majorities rule but minority have rights 0 Social consensus I We have consensus on some values and goals I Disagreements not too deep can be resolved through procedures I Hold elections and the winner gets power the loser gets rigths I Strong cultural divisions ex Rwanda Bosnia Iraq 0 One side choses warfare to win the debate and not procedures Such as our civil war 0 Patience I Accept complexity of democracy 0 Decrease in ability to accept outcome of election 0 Try to make a better case next time better job ofpushing legislation 0 Making claims of recall someone now is always going to call for impeachment 0 Fundamentals Endure I Broad elements of constitutional order are endorsed I Consensus exists that remedies should come through law I Most satisfied with economic order opportunities exist to achieve many content with their position Tolerance and its evolutionimpact o American s seem to favor the idea of free speech and free protest etc but don t feel that way in practice Ex Anger of Westborough Baptist 0 Ex Communist in America during the Red Scare suspects were thrown in jail blacklisted and in some cases deported 0 Trends 0 Question about someone giving a speech in their town Tolerance has gone up over time except for a in Muslim extremist only 41 percent would let them speak 0 Social Learning Theory 0 Increases in exposer to social cultural diversity 0 Rising levels of education 0 Movement from rural to urban suburban o Expose us to new backgrounds new lifestyles o How population shifts are ongoing with new cities 0 Perhaps these sorts of sifts have lead to more tolerance o Selfesteem those with low selfesteem are more intolerant Have threatening groups become less threatening True test of tolerance putting up with those we find most repugnant 0 People can be talked out of undemocratic attitudes however more tolerant can be talked out of their tolerance 2 003 debate between civil liberties and national security 0 Fears after 911 0 Is tolerance dichotomous 0 Some argue you either are or you aren t 0 Make a list that makes people hesitant and you said you were willing to ensure that liberties should be extended to 1920 groups Are you 95 percent tolerant I EX 77 85 gave one intolerant response 97 79 gave one intolerant response 0 Pluralistic Intolerance 0 Public may be intolerant 0 However they have no consensus o In this day in age our fears about groups are heterogeneous o No agreement on who is worst 0 Also little action despite intolerance Week 13 Feelings about candidates 0 Social desirability pressures that may lead some to not answer the questions ab out presidential racereligionetc honestly o Explicit prejudice consciously endorsed negative attitudes based on group membership Implicit prejudice associations that come to mind unintentionally whose in uence on thought and action may not be consciously recognized and can be difficult to control 0 The presidents we elect 0 Few specific requirements 0 Majority have ended up very similar though 0 Most between 5059 0 Until recently all white 0 Most ofa similar religious background 0 Feeling toward candidate religion 0 Support for most protestant faiths is high so much so that we don t ask 0 Support for Baptists always high 0 Support for Catholics Iews has grown higher over time Post WW2 0 Support for Mormons is lower 3 in 4 say yes 0 Atheists much worse chance less than 50 0 Feeling toward candidate race 0 Support for AfricanAmerican candidates has increased 0 1950 s less than 50 percent 0 Support for a Hispanic candidate slightly lower 0 Even less support for Asian candidates can you name any high profile Asian candidate 0 Feelings about women as potential presidents 0 Support up over time o Dropped across the 2000 s because of foreign policy importance 0 Women are seen as hesitant on use of force 0 Clinton 2008 tough on foreign policy for a reason 0 Recovered in 2011 to 93 percent 0 o Feelings about sexual orientation 0 33 percent said they would not vote for a homosexual candidate according to a Gallup poll However this is significant improvement from 46 percent in 2007 o Feelings about rights 0 African Americans I Citizens attitudes depend heavily on two factors 1 support varies based on whether the policy at hand refers to equal rights in principle or equal rights in practice 2 levels of support for civil rights differs between black and white citizens ex Whites support civil rights just as much as blacks in principle but whites are less likely to support legislation putting the rights into action as blacks 0 Gay Rights I Citizens demonstrate a strong support for equal job opportunites for gays and lesbians 75 percent think gays should be allowed to serve in the military Citizens are less supoortvie when it comes to supporting gay sexual relationships Citizens are reluctant to give the right to marriage to the gays Election survey types 0 Benchmark Polls 0 Candidate usually commissions these to see their public image and positions on issues and get a baseline for evaluating the progress of a campaign 0 Issues with Benchmark polls 0 Low namerecognition 0 Conditions might change and change wildly o On the other hand these polls are necessary have to start running as early as possible these days 0 Trial Heat Polling o Hypothetical races eg HRC vs Christie in NI 0 We see these as soon as election ends 0 In fact we see them before an election ends at times 0 They only propel the horse race claim 0 Issues with Trial Heat Polls 0 Conducted so far out that they can t capture conditions 0 Sometimes capture just name recognition 0 If they mention parties do they just capture partisanship 0 Tracking Polls 0 Used once we know our competitors 0 Often done in rolling fashion 0 Expensive to surveys 0 Tracking Polls in Practice 0 October 30 polls is Oct 272829 data 0 October 31 poll gets ride ofOct 27 adds October 30 0 Issues with Tracking Polls o How many days to include o More days means larger N 0 However things can change quickly 0 Conditions on day 1 might not resemble conditions on day 5 0 Cross sectionalversus panel 0 Most tracking polls are cross sectional New people interviewed every day Easier cheaper than tracking the same people Problems movements in numbers are not transparent Panel surveys solve some of these problems causes some of their own using the same college students for a month or a year can be burdensome o Electoral panels 0 Electoral Focus Groups 0 Small subset interviewed indepth 0 Sometimes behind the scenes 0 Sometimes used by networks I What can you do to make your network different Use focus groups to hel o Often following debates conventions 0 Provide quick information 0 New frontier focus groups with dials during events 0 Deliberative opinion polls 0 Combines elements ofboth the focus group and the standard public opinion poll 0 O O 0 Week 14 Going publicleading opinion 0 Prespoliticians going on late night talk shows etc Obama on Clinton on Conan etc Leadership responsiveness Predicting vote choice 0 Predicted by 0 Party ID and Ideology 0 Group membership separate from party I EX Race gender etc based on individual characteristics 0 Retrospective evaluations o Candidate evaluations 0 Issues 0 Predictability of elections 0 Two questions 1 the health of the economy 2 are we at war particularly in an unsuccessful war or at peace 0 Important because they underlie the public s evaluation of public figures The public hold elected officials responsible for how well the economy is doing and whether the US is at war and if so whether it is winning 0 Voters behave quotretrospectivelyquot looking backwards at the state of the country and evaluating incumbents accordingly 0 Electoral Shortcuts 0 Using policy hard 0 Requires attention sophistication 0 Many lack resources to get the information or lack access to it 0 Many use shortcuts instead 0 Groupbased shortcut 0 Does candidate appear to favor a certain group 0 If so what does that mean to me o Cues from fellow group members who do have information rather than gathering it on my own 0 No investment in specific positions is required 0 Nature of the Times Shortcut 0 Do conditions seem good or bad under incumbent party in power 0 How is president Obama doing and is this enough to help me make that decision 0 2016 decision may not even involve the candidates but decide if republican or democrats should be in power after the democrats have had it o Reward or punish accordingly 0 May not be policy based can be completely economic in nature 0 Let new people run things vs staying the same 0 Personality based shortcut 0 Not issue based 0 Personality feelings about candidates 0 quotStylequot positive negative other boxes active passive 0 Instead select candidates based on opinions of characteristics 0 Example likeability quotleadershipquot character 0 These things are hard to measure what does quotleadershipquot mean What does quotcharacterquot mean Week 15 Predicting aggregate outcomes 0 Partisanship in society 0 Economic and government management 0 Candidate evaluations o Ideological proximity Can we place candidate on spectrum and place them where voters are 0 Partisanship and outcomes 0 Partisanship moves over time but in increments I This is a measure that moves glacially I Explains why for decades Dems were able to hold house and fairly good at holding the senate Dem advantage until 1980s then decline Parity between parties for the most part Democrats had advantage in 08 2012 Interesting phenomenon I You have dems holding house ofreps from the mid 195094 holding senate from 8090 but you have the Eisenhower Nixon George W etc I How to overcome it Through candidates and programs Presidential evaluation 0 Voters are at times retrospective 0 Over 50 percent a sign ofvictory Foreign policy and evaluation 0 Presidents who cope with foreign policy well succeed o Postcon ict drags down approval 0 Prolonged con ict drags down approval I Had George W ran in 2006 rather than 2004 it may have been a different outcome Economics and evaluation 0 Election day prosperity is a sign ofvictory I Unemployment was high last year but the trend seemed to be positive enough for Obama 0 Links between growth in income and presidential party success 0 This is not as easy as it seems Ex Bush 41 I Despite the fact the economy was turning around Attractiveness of candidate 0 Changing candidates leads to changing outcomes 0 19522004 republicans run more attractive in terms of personality candidates I Eisenhower war record I Regan known personally from celeb but politically for his ability to communicate I George H W seen as a wimp on air scrap with Dan rather Ideology and evaluation 0 Popular lore staking out the middle ground equals Victory 0 Anthony Downs if both are stationed near the center neither will have a policy edge 0 If one veers toward extreme opponent will have edge 0 Presidential results bear this out 0 Republicans more moderate from 19501980 s overcoming Democratic advantages 0 Clinton changes this for Democrats in short term I He wasn t pressed very far to go to the left and had a pretty moderate candidate OOOO 0 If Party ID was the sole determinant outcomes would re ect partisan balance and results would be the same again and again Normal vote and what causes deviations 0 Evolution of the Normal Vote 0 O O 50 s90 s Democrats have normal vote advantage This explains democratic hold on congress Republicans slowly chip away at Dem advantage over time o Overcoming the Normal Vote 0 O O O 0 Short term forces allow for differences between normal actual vote This explains how republicans competed for and won presidency at times in second half of 20th century In these cases defectors don t defect equally Campaign choices for some reason getting one side to cross over and vote for other party Also independents don t split evenly Floating and side switching o Floating Voters 0 O O 0 Another term for independent They are people who lack long term commitment Make choices based on campaigns don t pay too much attention until last few months of campaign or election Scholars find tend to e least exposed to information in long term 0 Side Switches in long term 0 O O O 0 Only a small percentage switch sides across elections 50 s 20 percent switched sides in two elections Number narrows over time 929611 percent 0004 10 percent 0 Side switchers in short term 000000 0 I Election panel surveys Side switchers within elections It s rare we see a good deal of stability within elections Most often takes place after major event Changes after conventions debates Switchers in short term from one side to undecided Small numbers here though 7 percent over time in last few months ofa campaign Lower level offices even less switching The lower the level the less debate news and these candidates are not in our faces as much and running adsparties just fall back on ID s Independents let what they vote for at the top of the ballot fall to who they vote for at the bottom of the ballot


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