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Government and Politics
GVPT 170
Patrick Wohlfarth

FINAL EXAM Thursday,December 19,2013 5:09 PM Public Opinion • What is public opinion (or public attitudes)? • How do citizens form political attitudes that represent their ideological beliefs (from a psychological perspective)? Some considerations (almost) always shape public opinion • Group attachments (e.g.,Race,Gender,Class) • Context & economic conditions • politicians tend to be held accountable for the economics • Religion • Beliefs more than denomination • Party identification • How politically informed is the public? macro & micro • What are the necessary requirements of a scientific public opinion poll? Describe the properties of a good,scientific sample. Population vs.sample • draw a sample in a right way that accurately represents the entire population that we have chosen • your population can be any group of people that you care about How to get reliable results? • Randomness is critical • randomness is the first requirement • Good sample size • Ideally,at least 1200-1500 respondents • after get pass 1500 the payoff starts to decline-cost/benefit Randomness Every item (or person) selected from a group (or population) should have an equal probability of being selected in the sample. Straw Polls (e.g.,IA straw poll) -> people who decided to show up • Only reliable by luck Common problems: • Exclusion • Self-selection • volunteerism How to get reliable results? • Randomness is critical • randomness is the first requirement • Good sample size • Ideally,at least 1200-1500 respondents • after get pass 1500 the payoff starts to decline-cost/benefit • What are the concepts of political ideology and partisan identification? What do they represent and how do citizens form their ideological views and partisan attachments? Party Identification (PID) Definition: A person’s ingrained loyalty to a political party and emotional attachment to it. • “I am a Democrat/Republican” PID is: • A psychological attachment • affiliation-shared sense of group identity-have a stake in the group • A group identity • A running tally of evaluations of the parties over time • running tally of performance-internalize the information to some extent-updates overtime-you have more positive/negative attitude towards each party based on you perception of their performance PID provides a powerful perceptual screen through which we evaluate the political world • filtering information-shaping how people view information • hard to be moved away from the attachment-been living with it • What is the process of issue evolution? Tides of Consent,Chapter 3 Issue Evolution • How issues become “structured”along a party-driven,left-right dimension • issue become the focus of national campaign,party supports either this side or that side • one single dimension: conservative/liberal,left-right • structured: ideological division,partisan driven • Issues initially cross-cutting…then a critical moment • issue that is not structured: no party supports clearly this side • issues politicians made important are cross-cutting • "critical moment" • E.g.,Race & civil rights policy pre-Goldwater in 1964 • Critical role of politicians & elites • elite • until some politician takes a stand of it people these issues being taken into consideration • counter argument: party responding to the changes • chicken-egg problem • Issue dimensions = the structure of party politics • “one plus residue” • A contrary perspective (i.e.,the counterargument to Tides)–Politicians & elites respond to changes in public cleavages • What are the primary factors that shape presidential approval? Systematic Characteristics of presidential approval • Equilibration • more or less,presidential approval gets too/too low in the short term tends to get back to 50 • extreme examples: if the economy/war does really poorly drag it down • Honeymoon • historically: the start of tenure,president is popular • just got into office hasn't done things to be criticized yet • little less recently • Crises–Rally around the flag • temporally short term boost (sky rocket) to president's approval • only temporally feelings-uniform feeling cross partisan lines towards president • eventually gets back / negative • e.g.starts a war-> boost; in a long run drags-troops start dying • Economy–mostly future expectations • where economy is going to in the future affects their attitude towards president • of course this expectation is affected by past/current status Voting • How does voter turnout in the United States compare with other industrialized countries? What are some likely sources of the differences? voting & participation–links public opinion to government officials and government policy Compared to other Western Industrialized Countries,The United States has: • More elections • national election; state: governor,judges; municipal election: mayor,city council • Lower voter turnout • Higher levels of more active participation • registration for vote practice varies between states • Describe the calculus of voting.When does a rational person decide to vote? The Calculus of Rational Voting P(B)-C P = Probability your vote will be decisive • you show up to vote,your vote has the chance to be the deciding vote-meaningful to the outcome B = Difference between having one candidate versus another in office • (B = How much do I like Obama vs.Romney) • maybe I'm okay with Romney in office? C = The cost of voting (e.g.,registering,going to the polls,etc.) The Calculus of Voting Will vote if P(B)–C > 0 P(B) BENEFIT versus the C COST • But,P is almost always (near) zero. • And,C is more than zero. So…rational not to vote. • What are the individual characteristics,institutional factors,and campaign-specific factors that affect voter turnout? Voter Turnout Why show up to vote? • Individual characteristics of voters • Education,income,age,etc. • e.g.higher income wants to be tax less • historically,with regularity,older people tend to vote • recently stats say young people turn out to vote • Individual attitudes of voters • Civic Duty,campaign interest • Early childhood socialization also a factor • how you grow up,how you socialize Institutional factors • Registration requirements–vary by state • big controversy: Motor Voter Law (1993) • Time & day of Elections • thus-Increasing use of early voting,voting by mail,absentee ballot etc. • Lack of penalties for failure to participate • my thought: including if not voting another candidate will take over office Campaign-specific factors • Closeness of Race • Negative campaigning--?? • Level of office being contested • What are other common ways,beyond voting,that the public may participate in the political process? Other Participation Active participation: • Working for a candidate/party • Contributing money • Attending rallies or events • Social movements • Involvement in civic organizations Who becomes active? • Better educated • Wealthier • More extreme ideologies/views on issues • Younger (for some activities anyway)
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