American Politics COMPLETE NOTES [Part 13] - I got a 4.0 in the course!

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Political Science
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March 5, 2014 Midterm - up until Media Section Readings - Chapter 6 (public opinion) and chapter 7 (media) No discussion next week - wednesday (3/12), friday (3/15), and monday (3/24) Public Opinion ➔ Today’s Questions ◆ What are the key characteristics of American public opinion? ◆ Does public opinion actually impact public policy? ➔ American Public Opinion ◆ Uninformed ◆ Unideological ● Self Placement ○ Public does not demonstrate awareness of their own ideology OR ideology of policies that they support ○ 30% can not place themselves on a scale ○ 30% place themselves in the middle ○ “Government - keep your hands off my Medicare!” ◆ Government PROVIDES Medicare, so if government “kept their hands off”, Medicare would not exist ● Use of ideology ○ Structure Opinions - people “group think” ◆ Groupthink 40% ● Whatever is good for my group is good for me ◆ Inconsistent ● Principle-Policy Paradox of American Public Opinion ○ Overwhelmingly likely to support traditional values (freedom of speech, equality) ○ When applied to actual specific cases, Americans are not so likely to support these values Stability ● ○ Time 1 v. Time 2 ○ In a very short period of time, someone may change their beliefs about a policy ◆ Why? ● Rational Ignorance ● For most people in their lives: “In the circus of life, politics is but a sideshow” ○ Americans are more interested in social media and celebrities than being politically informed ◆ All is Not Lost? ● The lack of clarity of American Public’s opinion is seen (by political scientists) as a threat to Democracy ● Issue Publics ○ Groups of individuals which, on certain issues, are highly informed ○ Informed, ideological, stable, i
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