A.Lincoln and the Gettysburg address "of the people, by the people, for the people." 1.Yet the federal government's budget is not balanced
2.Yet the people have opposed busing
3.Yet the ERA was not ratified
4.Yet most Americans opposed Clinton's impeachment
5.Yet most Americans favor term limits for Congress
B.Why government policy and public opinion may appear to be at odds 1.Government not intended to do "what the people want"
a.Framers of Constitution aimed for substantive goals
b.Popular rule was only one of several means toward these goals. c.Large nations feature many "publics" with many "opinions." 1.Framers hoped no single opinion would dominate
2.Reasonable policies can command support of many factions
2.Limits on effectiveness of opinion polling; difficult to know public opinion 3.Government may give more weight to political elites who may think differently II.What is Public Opinion?
A.Influences and limitations
1.Public ignorance: Monetary Control Bill ruse, poor name recognition of leaders 2.Importance of wording of questions, affects answers
3.Questions may focus one side of an issue at the expense of another (benefits / costs) 4.Instability of public opinion
5.Public has more important things to think about; need clear-cut political choices 6.Specific attitudes less important than political culture
III.The origins of political attitudes
A.The role of the family
1.Child absorbs party identification of family but becomes more independent with age 2.Much continuity between generations
3.Declining ability to pass on identification
4.Younger voters exhibit less partisanship; more likely to be independent 5.Meaning of partisanship unclear in most families; less influence on policy preferences 6.Few families pass on clear ideologies
1.Religious traditions affect families
a.Catholic families somewhat more liberal
b.Protestant families more conservative
c.Jewish families decidedly more liberal
2.Two theories on differences
a.Social status of religious group
b.Content of religion's tradition
C.The gender gap
1.A "problem" that has existed for a long time for both parties a.Men and women both identified with the Democratic Party at about the same levels in the 1950s b.By the 1990's men identified more with the Republican party while women continued to support the Democrats at earlier levels 2.Possible explanations for the "gap"
a.Attitudes about size of government, gun control, spending programs for the poor, and gay rights b.The conservative policy positions of men are increasingly matched by their party loyalty c.Presence of Democratic female candidates may also have an impact D.Schooling and information
1.College education has liberalizing effect; longer in college, more liberal 2.Effect extends beyond end of college
3.Cause of this liberalization?
a.Personal traits: temperament, family, intelligence
b.Exposure to information on politics
c.Liberalism of professors
4.Effect growing as more go to college
5.Increasing conservatism since 1960s?
a.Yes (legalizing marijuana)
b.No (school busing)
IV.Cleavages in public opinion
A.Social class: less important in United States than in Europe 1.More important in 1950s on unemployment, education, housing programs 2.Less important in 1960s on poverty, health insurance, Vietnam, jobs 3.Why the change?
a.Education: occupation depends more on schooling
b.Noneconomic issues now define liberal and conservative
B.Race and ethnicity
1.Social class becoming less clear-cut source of political cleavage 2.Impact of race and ethnicity is less clear
a.Some clear difference in opinion (party identification, O.J. Simpson, criminal justice system, affirmative action) b.Some similarities (quotas, getting tough on crime, abortion, etc.) c.Evidence that the gap in opinions is narrowing
d.Further complication: gaps between the opinions of...