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Public Opinion and Political Behaviors

Public Opinion and Political Behaviors

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Public Opinion and Political Behaviors

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  1. Public Opinion and Political Behaviors Unit IIA American Political Culture

  2. Political Culture • A set of basic values and beliefs • How political and economic life ought to be carried out • Shared by most citizens • Subcultures • Distinctions and patterns based on region, religion, ethnicity, culture

  3. Basic American Values • Liberty - individual freedoms guaranteed • Equality - each citizen treated equally • Majority Rule - democracy, but minority rights assured • Limited Government - prohibitions on government to ensure will of the people • Civic Duty - a citizen’s responsibility to the government and community • Private Property - capitalist system and guaranteed ownership

  4. Political Socialization • The process which a citizen acquires one’s sense of political identity • Learning and becoming aware of the values and beliefs the political system is based • Influences shape political identity from childhood to adulthood

  5. Influences on Political Identity • Family and Home • Education and Schools • Group Affiliations • Demographic Factors • Mass Media • Opinion Leaders • Events

  6. The Family and Home • Arguably the strongest and lasting influence on one’s political identity • Strongest when both parents identify with same political party • 60% of adults still had party affiliation of parents

  7. Education and Schools • Schools and colleges tend to make citizens more liberal • More access to information • Atmosphere conducive for exploration of new ideas

  8. Religion • Social Status • Catholics and Jews suffered discrimination • Democrats appealed to them and gained their support • Religious Tradition • Evangelical protestants emphasize personal salvation therefore more conservative in social policies

  9. Gender • Gender Gap - difference in political views between men and women • Women tend to vote Democrat; pro-choice issues • Men more conservative; voting more Republican • 2000 Election • 55% women voted Gore (D) • 54% men voted Bush (R)

  10. Social Class • Lower-class • Limited education • Tend to vote Democrat, but low voter turnout • Working-class (blue-collar) • Tend to vote Democrat, but subject to other influences • Middle-class (white-collar) • Tend to be split and dependent on other influences • Upper-class • Tend to vote Republican with pro-business policies

  11. Race and Ethnicity • Whites vote more Republican • Pro-business • Blacks vote more Democrat • Affirmative action • Hispanics vote more Democrat • immigration • Asians vote more Republican • Conservative culture

  12. Region • New England - more liberal • Southeast/Bible Belt - more conservative • Midwest - more conservative • Pacific - more liberal • Urban - more liberal/Democratic • Rural - more conservative/Republican

  13. Media

  14. Opinion Leaders The Dalai Lama on human rights Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on civil rights Barack Obama became first black president Norman Braman launched largest municipal recall election

  15. Events • President Lyndon Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964 • Prompts Southern Democrats to shift Republican • 9/11 • Americans become more patriotic and more willing to limit freedoms for sake of security

  16. Cleavages in Public Opinion • Public opinions are never absolute and always overlap • Examples: • Blacks vote Democrat due to support on affirmative action and equality policies, but most blacks are against gay marriage • Cubans vote Republican despite majority of Hispanics voting Democrat for immigration policies • A blue-collar worker would vote Democrat for pro-union policies, but votes Republican due to conservative religious traditions