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By | December 2011
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Chapter 6 – Breech

I. Public Opinion
The collected attitudes of citizens on a given issue or question

In the 1940s, they made sure not to show FDR in his wheelchair JFK’s affair
Today, almost everything is deemed to be politically relevant; now an open question of the media Affairs
Smoking pot

II. Why is it important to understand public opinion? Why does it matter? Because in a democracy, there must be some link between what the public thinks, and what the government does. The nature of that link can vary greatly. Sometimes, government completely ignores public opinion = weak link; could also be a strong link Link may be voting periodically; lobbyists; tea party movements; referendum initiatives There is also the question of whether the public is capable of governing. The US votes a lot more than other countries; public has many opportunities for input

Should the public just periodically elect representatives, or should they actively engage in the policy-making process? Are the people really qualified/educated enough to do this? Example: John McCain saying people of D.C. knowing the most about taxes

It’s the delegate vs. trustee distinction we made earlier

There is also the question of whether the public is capable of governing. Surveys show that people: Are not very interested in politics
Are ignorant of much that goes on politically
Rely heavily on cues and shortcuts rather than informed issue positions Political parties; media; interest groups; one issue movements; pro-life movement; RNA endorsements Found that people do a good job with the information they do have; think pretty rationally without knowing all details of U.S. government policies Another is those you talk politics with – person is whether really informed or not

Another way to answer this question is to consider who is most interested in PO Elected Officials— PO may influence government decision-making Academics— seek to understand why people behave the...

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