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2012-11-28 Public Opinion.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2244E
P Ferguson

Public Opinion November 28, 2012 What is Public Opinion -values/beliefs: basic orientation to politics -political ideology: complex, interrelated set of beliefs and values, form general philosophy about government -public opinion: how people think or feel about particular things -do we get accurate reads? -the most stable is ideology, next is set of values and beliefs -lots of confidence on business polling -how much info do polls convey? -we do get info from polls, but media thinks they get more info from polls than they actually do Where do we get our opinions? -most have few political info or opinions -most people don’t think about politics at all -people name politicians: only 25% people can name their 2 Senators, 29% people can name their Representative, >50% people know that theAmend 1-10 = Bill of Rights -Costs – time, energy, skills acquisition -takes a lot of energy and time to learn and understand = makes people not willing to learn -people seek shortcuts -e.g. watch comedy shows (Colbert Report and Daily Show), church, family, school and classes -Costs? -can’t defend political interests = losers -if you can’t defend interests you think are important, you’ll lose -easier to manipulate – people and political process Common American Values -Are there any? -equality of opportunity -deeply ingrained inAmerican psyche -individual freedom -democracy -American more distrustful of authority For population over 500k, phone calls to pollsters have to make to get a “good” sample? Single most important factor in conducting a valid scientific poll is: -randomness of sample Random Sampling -random sampling is necessary -one way: you have a list of 100,000 phone numbers -you just randomly pull the first 5000 numbers -random sampling: target different locations, different age groups -not random: -income disparity in cell phone use -age gap -some people don’t answer the phone problem -need ~ 1050 in a poll (when population is +500k) -margin of error of +/-3% -problems: -cell phones, no call lists, screening, apathy -no call lists: doesn’t count for political polling -solutions? The internet? -internet surveys: skewed -get people who understand technology than the norm -internet doesn’t allow for randomness -more people you survey = lower margin of error What else is important? -Question wording -e.g. welfare vs. programs that support the poor = same meaning, but different wording -e.g. forbid vs. not allow -e.g. pro-choice and pro-life vs. supporters and opposition of abortion -Framing -different ways to frame issues -see this in push polls -purpose of push poll: convey an idea to people (mostly negative idea) -Qualified workers (lowest cost bids) -media has incentive to do polls; economic -lowest cost bids: untrained/uneducated workers -if media doesn’t do the polls, they usually go to professional polling firms -Dates of poll -depends on when you call; do you call during holidays? -Information about poll -sponsor, firm, dates, population, #, MoE, report -Ability to report polls -lower-level ne
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