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Individual Opinions

Individual Opinions

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Individual Opinions

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  1. Individual Opinions GOVT311 Lecture 10

  2. Political Knowledge • Some people are political junkies • Most people have little knowledge about government. • Almost everyone knows the name of the president • About half know the name of their congressperson • About 2 in 10 know the name of the Chief Justice • When an issue raises in importance, people learn • Knowledgeable people tend more liberal on social issues and more conservative on economic issues (Erikson and Tedin p. 65)

  3. How does Knowledge » Opinion? • Economic way of viewing politics: For the Median Voter Theorem (Downs) to work, people must be able to evaluate the costs and benefits of policy choices • Psychology views: • On-line perspective: people keep a running tally in their heads (campaigns) • Memory based: people store “considerations” and use these to make judgments on issues (low-information). This implies that accessibility of considerations is important.

  4. Response stability • In panel studies, when asked the same question, people will sometimes respond differently, especially on issues that are not particularly salient (E & T p.67) • Some interesting observations: • When intermediate answers are allowed, there is more evidence of response stability (such as abortion questions, p.68) • The amount of time between panels does not seem to make a difference on the magnitude of response stability

  5. Explaining Response Instability • Non-attitudes: people without true attitudes will provide a response even if they don’t have one. These people will exhibit response instability (problem: political knowledge is not correlated with response stability) • Measurement Error: surveys themselves are prone to error that might cause response instability (such as framing and question wording) • Response Probability: people have propensities to answer a question in a certain direction, these probabilities may change over time, such as with national mood swings such as Sept. 11 (memory based)

  6. Ideology • Ideology: opinions that are connected by a logical consistency of core political values. (E & T p. 72). • Ideology can be “sociotropic” – people who are rich may be liberal, even though liberal policies may hurt their pocketbook. • Ideologue: a person that places politics in the context of ideology. • Ideology may change over time • Ideology may be dependent on the issues of the day

  7. Ideological Consistency(E & T p.76-7) • Most people are ideologically consistent, though there are a number of people who are not. • Some issues break across ideology, such as abortion • People like more spending: they like both guns and butter • People with more knowledge do tend to be more ideologically consistent • People with more knowledge are more ideological (p.83)

  8. Knowledge and Partisanship • People generally figure out where the two parties are ideologically (E&T p.85). • Conservatives tend to align with the Republicans and Liberals with the Democrats (p.87) • Persons with most knowledge are the strongest partisans (p.88)