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Public Opinion

Public Opinion

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Public Opinion

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  1. Public Opinion POLS 21: The American Political System “One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.” — Bertrand Russell

  2. Linkage Institutions People Government Public Opinion Elections Political Parties Interest Groups News Media

  3. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  4. 1. Who was polled? Source: The Gallup Organization, September 7-9, 2012.

  5. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  6. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  7. If we draw RANDOM, repeated samples out of the same population, those samples will distribute themselves in a normal (bell-shaped) curve around the average of all possible samples.

  8. Adolf Hitler Bill Clinton (write in) Josef Stalin Pol Pot Dr. Josef Mengele Hillary Clinton (write in) Saddam Hussein Adolf Eichmann Charles Manson Idi Amin Genghis Khan Jeffrey Dahmer Benito Mussolini Ayatollah Khomeini Ted Bundy John Wayne Gacy Ivan the Terrible Fidel Castro Jim Jones Vlad the Impaler Top 25 Most Evil People of the Millennium

  9. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  10. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  11. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  12. 7. What questions were asked? • Sometimes pollsters ask questions on topics about which people have no reasonable basis for judgment. • Questions can be imprecise. • Questions can be biased in many, many ways.

  13. Judging the Quality of a Public Opinion Poll • Who was polled? • When were they polled? • How many people were interviewed for the survey? • How were those respondents chosen? • What was the response rate? • What is the margin of error? • What questions were asked? • Who sponsored the poll, and for what purpose?

  14. An Infamous Push Poll “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” The McCain family in 1999

  15. Push Polls As you know, elected officials are held to high standards in public life. Here are some reasons people are giving to vote against Dan Morales for Attorney General. Please tell me if each statement makes you much more likely to vote against Dan Morales, somewhat more likely to vote against Dan Morales or if it make no difference at all? Here’s the first… (RANDOMIZE) • Morales supports affirmative action. • Morales supports gun control. • Conservative political groups rate Morales as a liberal Democrat • Morales has said that young gang members don’t need harsh treatment and prison, but that they need hire recreational facilities, drug counseling and summer jobs. • Victims Rights activists say Morales sold out crime victims when he settled a prisoner’s lawsuit without even taking the case to court. Now that you’ve had a chance learn more about Dan Morales’ record, do you think Dan Morales has performed his job as Attorney General well enough to deserve reelection, or do you think it’s time to give a new person a chance to do a better job?

  16. Changing the subject to something else all together, I’d like to ask you some questions about lawsuits in Texas. 39. There has been some public debate about lawsuits lately. First, do you think there are too many frivolous lawsuits being filed today, or not? Next I’d like to ask you about some specific situations where people engage in risky activities but still consider suing if they get hurt. Here’s the first . . . 40. Do you think people who drink alcohol and get drunk and injure themselves or others should be allowed to sue the alcohol industry and claim money damages for medical costs they say were caused by their drinking? 41. Do you think people who eat meat or dairy products like cheese and butter and later develop heart disease should be allowed to sue meat companies or dairy farmers to claim money damages for their medical costs? 42. Do you think people who smoke cigarettes should be allowed to sue tobacco companies and claim money damages for medical costs they say were caused by their smoking? 43. Do you think people who use a gun or a knife and injure themselves should be allowed to sue the gun or knife manufacturer and claim money damages for medical costs, even if the product was not faulty?

  17. Push Polls I’d like to read you two different opinions on the cigarette lawsuit, and please tell me which comes closest to your own. . . (ROTATE) • I believe that people should be able to choose what’s the best for them. While I might not smoke, if they choose to, that’s their decision. • I believe that if something is not good for people, they should not do it. I think the government should act to stop people from smoking.

  18. AAPOR Standards for Minimal Disclosure • Who sponsored the survey and who conducted it • The exact wording of the questions asked • A definition of the population under study • A description of the sample design • Sample sizes and response rates • A discussion of the precision of the findings, including estimates of sampling error • Method, location, and dates of data collection