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Lecture 14

PLSC 201 Lecture 14: Topic 14- Public Opinion
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Department
Political Science
Course Code
PLSC 201
Professor
Huffmon

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Public Opinion
If we are a democracy, then what the people want matters
But, our founders went out of their way to limit the impact of public opinion because
they were afraid
o Staggered elections
o Originally had an unelected Senate
State legislatures would vote, not the people
o Independent judiciary
o Electoral college implemented to kind of put a barrier between the public will at
large and law and policy
o The Bill of Rights
So, Founders created a system where public will could become public policy, but not a
system where the public will automatically would become public policy
Three Important Facts about Public Opinion
1. Public opinion may conflict with other important values.
Opinion that Klansmen are scum of the earth is also in direct conflict with values
that they have the right to free speech
We see this in the news constantly
2. Public opinion is very difficult to interpret
There is o oe puli
They are grossly uninformed
For every belief, there are always at least 10 people who hold it; this is assumed
Public opinion is often unconstrained
o Public wants mutually exclusive things
o Local taxes are classic for this
Better roads v lower taxes
At this point in the lecture he went in depth into a PowerPoint of his about public
opinion, basically just summarized that our opinion is flawed and showed how
difficult it can be to interpret
o The same portion of the brain used when junkies shoot up is what lit up when a
person hears an excuse about a contradiction from their politician of choice
3. Public Opinion is mediated by Political Elites
Most importantly: elites, especially office holders, help us to make sense and
understand facts because we do not always fully understand
This happens in two ways:
o Viewers opinions change
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Description
Public Opinion If we are a democracy, then what the people want matters But, our founders went out of their way to limit the impact of public opinion because they were afraid o Staggered elections o Originally had an unelected Senate State legislatures would vote, not the people o Independent judiciary o Electoral college implemented to kind of put a barrier between the public will at large and law and policy o The Bill of Rights So, Founders created a system where public will could become public policy, but not a system where the public will automatically would become public policy Three Important Facts about Public Opinion 1. Public opinion may conflict with other important values. Opinion that Klansmen are scum of the earth is also in direct conflict with values that they have the right to free speech We see this in the news constantly 2. Public opinion is very difficult to interpret There is no one public They are grossly uninformed For every belief, there are always at least 10 people who hold it; this is assumed Public opinion is often unconstrained o Public wants mutually exclusive things o Local taxes are classic for this Better roads v lower taxes At this point in the lecture he went in depth into a PowerPoint of his about public opinion, basically just summarized that our opinion is flawed and showed how difficult it can be to interpret o The same portion of the brain used when junkies shoot up is what lit up when a person hears an excuse about a contradiction from their politician of choice 3. Public Opinion is mediated by Political Elites Most importantly: elites, especially office holders, help us to make sense and understand facts because we do not always fully understand This happens in two ways: o Viewers opinions change
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