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Public Opinion

Public Opinion. Wilson Chapter 5 Klein Oak High School. What is Public Opinion?. People don’t spend much time thinking about politics. Monetary Control Bill ruse poor name recognition of leaders Poll questions affect answers. Public opinion is unstable. Some Conclusions.

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Public Opinion

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  1. Public Opinion Wilson Chapter 5 Klein Oak High School

  2. What is Public Opinion? • People don’t spend much time thinking about politics. • Monetary Control Bill ruse • poor name recognition of leaders • Poll questions affect answers. • Public opinion is unstable.

  3. Some Conclusions • Public consultation works best with clear-cut political choices. • Specific attitudes may be less important to the health of society than is the underlying political culture.

  4. Origins of Political Attitudes • family • religion • gender • schooling

  5. The Role of Family 1 • Children adopt party ID of parents • more independent with time • trend is declining • Younger voters are less partisan. • more are independent

  6. The Role of Family 2 • Importance of partisan influence of parents is unclear. • Policy choices tend to be independent. • Clear political ideologies passed on only in a few families. • Most families do not discuss ideology. • Greater discussions = more transmittal of ideology

  7. The Role of Religion 1 • Families form & transmit allegiances through their religious traditions. • Catholic families = slightly more liberal on economic issues • Protestant families = more conservative • Jewish families = decidedly more liberal on economic and social issues

  8. The Role of Religion 2 • Two theories about these differences • Differences reflect social status of each group. • Catholics & Jews once poor immigrants = ID with Democratic Party. • Democratic support has waned as social status increased. • Differences reflect content of religion. • Jews emphasize social justice. • Evangelical Protestants emphasize personal rectitude.

  9. The Role of Religion 3 • Christian Coalition • grass roots mobilization • Republican affiliation

  10. The Role of Gender 1 • changing party affiliations of men and women • men increasingly Republican since mid-60s • women have identified with Democrats at about the same rate

  11. The Role of Gender 2 • reflects attitudinal differences about • size of government • gun controls • social programs • gay rights • gender gap not unique to U.S.

  12. Figure 5.1: The Party Identification of Men and Women: 1952-1996 Source: Karen M. Kaufman and John R. Petrocik, “ The Changing Politics of American Men: Understanding the Sources of the Gender Gap,” American Journal of Political Science 43 (1999): 864-887.

  13. The Role of Schooling 1 • College education has liberalizing effect • possibly due to exposure to liberalizing ideas • Effect extends long after college • Effect is growing as more people go to college

  14. The Role of Schooling 2 • Cause of this liberalizing? • personal traits • temperament, • family, • intelligence • exposure to information about politics • liberal professors

  15. The Role of Schooling 3 • Increasing Conservatism Since 1960s? • yes – opposing legalization of marijuana and abortion • no – support school busing

  16. Cleavages and Public Opinion • social class • race and ethnicity • region

  17. Social Class • less important in U.S. than Europe • Class voting • declined sharply since 1940s • Why the change? • greater exposure to liberalizing effects of higher education • noneconomic issues now define liberal and conservative • moral, symbolic, & foreign policy issues do not divide rich and poor in same way

  18. Race and Ethnicity • Similarities and differences between blacks and whites are complex • Generational differences also surface among African Americans • Difference between leaders and citizens • in black community • in white community • No Latino voters have become predictably partisan in their voting

  19. Region 1 • White southerners once more conservative than other regions regarding • aid to minorities, • legalizing marijuana, • school busing, and • rights of the accused • White southerners about the same as other regions on economic issues

  20. Region 2 • Traditionally, white southerners were solidly Democratic • the “solid south” – for Democrats • Political views today are less regionally distinct • Today, white Southerners are less attached to the Democratic Party than in the past.

  21. Political Ideology 1 • coherent and consistent set of political beliefs about who ought to rule, the principles rulers ought to obey, and what policies rulers ought to pursue • measured in terms of • How frequently they self-identify or describe their choices as liberal, conservative, etc. • Whether their policy preferences are consistent over time, or are based on consistent principles

  22. Political Ideology 2 • Yet people may have strong predispositions even if they do not satisfy these conditions • Other people may cross the borders of traditional liberalism or conservativism in their issue affiliations

  23. Liberalism and Conservativism? 1 • Labels have a complex history • Early 1800s • liberals supported • personal liberty • economic liberty • conservatives supported restoring the authority of • state • church • aristocracy

  24. Liberalism and Conservativism? 2 • Roosevelt & New Deal changes things • liberals • support activist government • conservatives • reaction to activism (Goldwater) • free markets • states rights • individual choice in economics • Today labels are imprecise and changing

  25. Categories of Public Opinion 1 • Economic policy: liberals favor • jobs for all, • subsidized medical care and education, • increased taxation of the rich • Civil rights: liberals favor • strong federal action to desegregate schools, • create hiring opportunities for minorities, and • strict enforcement of civil rights law

  26. Categories of Public Opinion 2 • Public and political conduct: liberals are • tolerant of protest demonstrations, • favor legalization of marijuana, • emphasize protecting the rights of the accused, and • respond to crime by seeking to eliminate its causes

  27. Analyzing Consistency • People mix liberal and conservative positions on these categories • See following slides!

  28. Pure Liberals • liberal on both economic and personal conduct issues • 1994, 17 percent of the population

  29. Pure conservatives • conservative on both economic and personalconduct issues • 1994, 28 percent of the population

  30. Libertarians • conservative on economic issues, liberal on personal conduct issues • 1994, about 21 percent of the population

  31. Populists • liberal on economic issues, conservative on personal conduct issues • 1994, about 24 percent of the population

  32. Political Elites • those who have a disproportionate amount of some valued resource • Elites, or activists, display greater ideological consistency • more information and more interest in politics than most people, so they may see more relationships among the issues • Their peers reinforce this consistency.

  33. Is there a “new class”? • those who are advantaged by the power, resources, and growth of government (not by business, as elites previously were) • Two explanations of well-off individuals who are liberals • Directly benefit from government • Liberal ideology is now infusing postgraduate education

  34. Middle Class Split? 1 • Traditional middle class: • four years of college, • suburban, • church affiliated, • pro business, • conservative on social issues, • Republican

  35. Middle Class Split? 2 • Liberal middle class (or new class): • postgraduate education, • urban, • critical of business, • liberal on social issues, • Democrat • Emergence of new class creates a greater strain in Democratic party

  36. Political elites, public opinion, and public policy • Elites influence public opinion in two ways • Raise and frame political issues • State norms by which to settle issues and define policy options

  37. Limits to elite influence on the public • Elites do not define economic, crime, and other problems that are rooted in personal experience • Elites contradict and disagree with one another, limiting their influence

  38. The End!

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