Public Opinion-those attitudes held by a significant # of people on matters of government and politics. • Public opinion is COMPLEX. • Complex because “the public” holds many different viewpoints on nearly every issue. • This is because there are many different “publics.” • EXAMPLES:
Factors that shape public opinion… • Family • Education • Peer Groups • Opinion Leaders • Historic Events • Mass Media
Mass Media(continued) • Types (see additional worksheet!): • television • newspapers • radio • magazines • Internet and… ???
Influence-media plays a significant role in politics! • Plays a large role in shaping PUBLIC AGENDA, the problems the citizens and government agree need attention. • Has made candidates less dependant on their party- now they can reach voters themselves! • Often when speaking, they deliver information in sharply focused segments that newscasts can air as sound bites- snappy 30-45 second reports. • Current examples sound bite usage:
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothings replaced them…And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." -Barack Obama Speech in San Francisco April 6th. • www.cnn.com • http://www.cbsnews.com/
Media to INFORM • The News Media • Know your sources… today many have agendas!!! • Examples: • Limits • Not everyone pays attention or understands media reports. • People often pay attention to sources and stories with which they agree.
Media to PERSUADE • Political Ads • Watch for propaganda (review 7 techniques) • Examples: • Clinton attack on “bitter” comments: www.cnn.com or http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/04/14/clinton.smalltown.ad.cnn?iref=videosearch • Obama response: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/category/1208.aspx
How do we measure public opinion? • Elections- Candidates who win often claim to have a MANDATE, a command to the public to carry out their campaign promises. • Interest Groups- these are private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape public policy. They make public opinion known through the work of lobbyists (via phone calls, letter writing, campaigning, etc.) • The Media- Sometimes stories in the news mirrors public opinions, other times the media can mold it!!! • The Best way to measure public opinion is through PUBLIC OPINION POLLS. • These are attempts to collect information by asking people questions (most accurate polls are based on scientific polling-techniques) • Examples: “Gallup Poll” or “Harris Survey” http://www.gallup.com/http://www.zogby.com/SOUNDBITES/ReadClips.dbm?ID=17317