Opinion Poll and Strong Public Opinion

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FRQ: Public Opinion

Public opinion polls are a way to link the public with elected officials. Members of Congress often use polls to understand the views of their constituents, but they must also pay attention to other political considerations. a. Identify two characteristics of a valid, scientific, public opinion poll. b. Explain why each of the following enhances the influence of public opinion on the voting decisions of members of Congress.

• Strong public opinion as expressed in polling results
• Competitive re-elections
c. Explain why each of the following limits the influence of public opinion on the voting decisions of members of Congress.
• Legislators’ voting records
• Party leadership

6 points
Part (a): 2 points
One point is earned for each correct identification of a characteristic of a valid, scientific public opinion poll. Acceptable characteristics may include the following: • Randomized sample
• Representative sample
• Question wording (unbiased, unambiguous)
• Large sample size/low margin of error

Part (b): 2 points
One point is earned for a correct explanation of why each of the following enhances the influence of public opinion on the voting decisions of members of Congress. • Strong public opinion as expressed in polling results

o Because of the desire to get reelected/electoral ambition o Because of the perceived obligation/duty to represent their constituents • Competitive reelections o Because of the desire to get reelected

Part (c): 2 points
One point is earned for a correct explanation of why each of the following limits the influence of public opinion on the voting decisions of members of Congress. • Legislators’ voting records o To avoid being perceived as indecisive by voters/supporters

• Party leadership: o To avoid the risk of losing party support o To gain party support

A score of zero (0) is assigned to an answer that is attempted but earns no points. A score of dash (—) is...
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