Chapter 5 outline
Lincoln and the Gettysburg address "of the people, by the people, for the people." 1.
Yet the federal government's budget is not balanced
Yet the people have opposed busing
Yet the ERA was not ratified
Yet most Americans opposed Clinton's impeachment
Yet most Americans favor term limits for Congress
Why government policy and public opinion may appear to be at odds 1.
Government not intended to do "what the people want"
Framers of Constitution aimed for substantive goals
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
Reasonable policies can command support of many factions
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?
Influences and limitations
Public ignorance: Monetary Control Bill ruse, poor name recognition of leaders 2.
Importance of wording of questions, affects answers
Questions may focus one side of an issue at the expense of another (benefits / costs) 4.
Instability of public opinion
Public has more important things to think about; need clear-cut political choices 6.
Specific attitudes less important than political culture
The origins of political attitudes
The role of the family
Child absorbs party identification of family but becomes more independent with age 2.
Much continuity between generations
Declining ability to pass on identification
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
Religious traditions affect families
Catholic families somewhat more liberal
Protestant families more conservative
Jewish families decidedly more liberal
Two theories on differences
Social status of religious group
Content of religion's tradition
The gender gap
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"
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
College education has liberalizing effect; longer in college, more liberal 2.
Effect extends beyond end of college
Cause of this liberalization?
Personal traits: temperament, family, intelligence
Exposure to information on politics
Liberalism of professors
Effect growing as more go to college
Increasing conservatism since 1960s?
Yes (legalizing marijuana)
No (school busing)
Cleavages in public opinion
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?
Education: occupation depends more on schooling
Noneconomic issues now define liberal and conservative
Race and ethnicity
Social class becoming less clear-cut source of political cleavage 2.
Impact of race and ethnicity is less clear
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
Further complication: gaps between the opinions of...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document