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Public Opinion

term used to denote the values and attitudes that people have about issues, events, and personalities

Values (beliefs)

made up of a person's basic orientation to politics

Political Ideology

refers to a complex and interrelated set of beliefs and values that, as a whole, form a general philosophy about government

Attitude (or opinion)

a specific view about a particular issue, personality, or event

Equality of Opportunity

a universally shared American ideal, according to which all have the same freedom to use whatever talents and wealth they posses to reach their full potential

Political Socialization

the induction of individuals into the political culture; the process of learning the underlying beliefs and values on which the political system is based

Agents of Socialization

the social institutions, including families and schools, that help shape individuals' basic political beliefs and values

gender gap

a distinctive pattern of voting behavior reflecting the differences in views between women and men

Liberal

traditionally favored freedom from state control; today a liberal generally supports political and social reform; extensive government intervention in the economy; the expansion of federal social services; more vigorous efforts on behalf of the poor, minorities, and women; and greater concern for consumers and the environment; support abortion rights, gay rights, oppose religious expression in government; internationally support arms control, aid to poor nations, no military intervention

Conservative

traditionally supported the use of government power and favored continuation of the influence of church and aristocracy in national life; today refers to those who generally support the social and economic status quo and are suspicious of efforts to introduce new political formulas and economic arrangements. Many conservatives also believe that a large and powerful government poses a threat to citizens' freedom; oppose extension of government, government intervention in business, and abortion; support school prayer; support the use of military to intervene in other countries

Public Opinion Polls

the scientific instruments for measuring public opinion

Sample

a small group selected by researchers to represent the most important characteristics of the entire population

Probability Sampling

a method used by pollsters to select a representative sample in which every individual in the population has an equal probability of being selected as a respondant (each member of the population is given a number, numbers are randomly chosen by random numbers table or computerized random selection process)

Random Digits Dialing

a poll in which respondents are selected at random from a list of ten-digit telephone numbers, with every effort made to avoid bias in the construction of the sample

Selection Bias

a polling error in which the sample is not representative of the population being studied so that some opinions are over or under represented

sampling error (margin of error)

a polling error that arises on account of the small size of the sample (chance that sample does not accurately represent the population from which it is drawn)

Measurement Error

the failure to identify the true distribution of opinion within a population because of errors such as ambiguous or poorly worded questions

Push Polling

a polling technique in which the questions are designed to shape the opponents opinion

Salient Interest

attitudes and views that are especially important to the individual holding them

Illusion of Salience

the impression conveyed by polls that something is important to the public when it actually is not

Bandwagon Effect

a shift in electoral support to the candidate whom public opinion polls report as the front runner

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