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Political Socialization and Public Opinion

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Nicholas Antonucci

on 18 September 2016

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Transcript of Political Socialization and Public Opinion

Political Socialization and Public Opinion
The Process of Political Socialization
Family and school have the
influence on political socialization.
In recent times, media have become one of the prime agents of political socialization.

Learning, culture, and socialization occur through agents of socialization, the individuals, organizations, and institutions that facilitate the acquisition of political views.

Family Influences on Activism & Attitudes
We learn whether our family members value civic activism by observing their actions and listening to their views.
Our families also influence what we believe.
While parents or older siblings may discuss specific issues or policies, their attitudes and outlook also shape children’s general political attitudes and ideology.
The Weekly Reader poll- Read the Story.

Participating in Civic Life
Children whose parents are active in politics or in their community are more likely to be active themselves.
(FAMILY-This our 1st Socialization agent in our lives!)
also play an important role in socializing young people to become active in civic life.
Research also indicates that socialization actually generates participation.
There is a strong link between
being informed and the likelihood of engaging in civic participation
Churches: The Role of Religion
This relationship between frequency of church attendance and identification with the
Party is particularly strong among white
African Americans are likely to be Democrats no matter how religious they are.
And although religious Latinos are more likely to be Republican, by and large, majorities of Latinos identify as Democrats.

Schools, Patriotism, &
Civic Participation
As early as preschool, children in the United States are socialized to believe in democracy and express patriotism.
Schools socialize children to the concept of democracy by making the idea tangible for them.
Research indicates that higher levels of education are associated with higher levels of political activism, which is passed through generations.

The Media
Ever-Increasing Role in Socialization
The media, especially television, help shape societal norms.
The media also reinforce core democratic values.
The media also help determine the national agenda.
The media educate the public about policy issues.
The media, particularly television, can skew people’s perception of public policy priorities and challenges.

Political Socialization
Civic Participation
The process by which we develop our political values and opinions is called
political socialization
A key aspect of political socialization is whether children are socialized to participate in politics.

Agents of Socialization
The Role of Religion
A better predictor of the impact of religion on voting is not so much the religion an individual practices but how regularly he or she practices it.
In general, those who regularly attend religious services are more likely to share conservative values—and support Republican candidates in general elections.

Peers & Group Norms
Friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other peers influence political socialization.
Research indicates that the primary function of peers
is to reinforce our already-held beliefs and values.

Think about this Video if it were applied to statements
Opinion Shapers
Political & Community Leaders
Political and community leaders also help to socialize people and influence public opinion.
The president plays an especially important role in shaping Americans’ views.
Often we rely on the recommendations and priorities of well-respected leaders who have earned our trust.
Demographic Characteristics:
Race & Ethnicity
African-American youth are the most politically engaged racial or ethnic group.
Asian Americans are more likely to have been active in their communities.
are the least likely to be active in politics or their communities, but they are
most likely to have engaged in political protests.
Young white
people are
least likely to engage in community and political activities

Demographic Characteristics: Gender
The gender gap refers to the measurable difference in the way women and men vote for candidates and in the way they view political issues.
Since the 1980 election, women voters are more likely than men to favor Democratic candidates.
Women in most age groups—except those under age 25—are more likely to vote than their male counterparts.
Demographic Characteristics: Age and Events
generational effect
is the
influence of a significant external event in shaping the views of a generation.
9/11 for younger Americans
Vietnam War and societal changes for Baby Boom generation
Great Depression & World War II for oldest Americans
Public opinion
are inextricably linked because the latter is the prism through which people view all political issues.
Public demonstrations; writing letters to the editor in local newspapers; and writing to congressmen and other federal officials are all
Manifestations of Popular Opinion
Federalist Papers

is the
example of
American politicians trying to
shape public opinion.

It can be said that public opinion is:
Is itself a socializing agent.
Can be measured in part through the act of voting.
Is used to craft policies to help politicians gain reelection.
Can be manifested in many ways.

Measuring Public Opinion
Public opinion
consists of the public’s expressed
views about an issue at a specific point in time
One of the most important ways public opinion is measured is through the
act of voting
Another important tool that policy makers, researchers, and the public rely on as an indicator of public opinion is the
public opinion poll
, a survey of a given population’s opinion on an issue at a particular time.

The Origins of Public Opinion Polls
In 1916, the Literary Digest, conducted its first successful STRAW POLL, a poll conducted in an unscientific manner to predict the outcome of an election.
How Public Opinion Polls Are Conducted
Those conducting the poll first need to
determine the population they are targeting for the survey
—the group of people whose opinions are of interest and about whom information is desired.
Polling organizations construct polls carefully to ensure that the questions actually measure what the client wants to know.
Pollsters frequently rely on
random sampling
, a scientific method of selection in which each member of the population has an equal chance at being included in the sample.
However, there are number of methodological problems in obtaining a truly random sample.
The 1948 Truman-Dewey was the only presidential election in which the Gallup poll erred badly

Quota sampling
is a more scientifically sophisticated method of sampling than random sampling. A pollster using this method structures the sample so that it is representative of the characteristics of the target population.
Another method used to address problems in sampling is
stratified sampling
, in which the
national population is divided into fourths
and certain areas within these regions are selected as representative of the national population.
Sampling Error
Sampling error
(sometimes called a
margin of error
), which is a statistical calculation of the difference in results between a poll of a randomly drawn sample and a poll of the entire population.
Most national polls have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points for 1,000-1,500 respondents.
(Most national polling organizations rarely poll more than 1,500respondents)
Types of Political Polls
Tracking polls
Push polls
Exit polls

Tracking polls
measure changes in public opinion over the course of days, weeks, or months by repeatedly asking respondents the same questions and measuring changes in opinion.
Tracking polls
Push polls
are a special type of poll that both attempts to skew public opinion about a candidate and provides information to campaigns about candidate strengths and weaknesses.
Push Polls
Between 1920 and 1932,
Literary Digest
correctly predicted the winner of every presidential race.
In 1935,
George Gallup
founded the American Institute of Public Opinion, which would later become the Gallup Organization. Gallup gained national recognition when he correctly predicted the outcome of the 1936 election.
Scientific opinion polls, which rely on the random selection of participants rather than their own self-selection, gained enormous credibility during this era (although note the 1948 election!).
Straw Poll
and unofficial vote taken to obtain an indication of the general trend of opinion on a particular issue.
Do this:
Look at page 205 in your text!
Answer this question
- When polling a state or congressional district, what number will a polling organization typically use as a sample size?
Exit polls are surveys of a small percentage of voters taken after they leave their voting place. pollsters use this data to project how all voters or segments of voters side on a particular race or ballot measure.
Exit Polls
The key to a successful sample is to have a sample that accurately reflects the population.
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