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Lecture 3

CAS PO 111 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Sample Size Determination

Political Science
Course Code
CAS PO 111
David Scott Palmer

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Public Opinion and Political Knowledge
Few Americans devote sufficient time, energy, or attention to politics to really understand
Shaping Opinion
Government: All gov't attempt to influence citizens' beliefs, but their efforts are counteracted
to interest groups, media, and politicians opposed to those in power
President has been actively "going public" for decades to influence how the public
perceives their policy intiatives
Private Groups
Groups and individuals seek to influence latent, unorganized individuals to support their
Groups and indi with more money
The mass media are the conduits through which most politically relevant information flows
to the public
Traditional media sources are supplemented today by the Internet and social media
We learn from the media actively (seeking out news) and passively (absorbing news
through entertainment)
Media Effect
Agenda setting: the power to bring attention to particular issues and problems
Priming: the process of preparing the public to take a particular view of an event or
a political actor
Framing: the power of the media to influence how events and issues are interpreted
Measuring Public Opinion
A poll is a scientific instrument for measuring public opinion
A century ago, political leaders utilized imperfect measures of public opinion such as crowd
size and the applause they hear
Political leaders use polls to determine whether to run for office, what policies to support,
and how to make speech
• Sample:! a small group selected to represent the most important characteristics of an entire
Should be random sampling
Selection Bias: a polling error in which the sample is not representative of the population
being studied (online magazine polls)
Sample size
Survey Design
Even with a large representative sample, a poll may provide a misleading result or
measurement error
Measurement error is the failure to identify the true distribution of opinion within a
The Questions Matter
Choices offered to respondents
Framing of the question
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