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Focus Groups

Small gatherings of individuals used to test ideas before marketing.


Individuals in a position of authority, often those with a higher level of education than the population at large.

Public Opinion

Opinions held by private individuals that governments find it prudent to heed.

Political Culture

The dominant values and beliefs of a political community.

Straw Poll

An unscientific survey of popular views.

Political Socialization

The process by which individuals come to adopt the attitudes, values, beliefs, and opinions of their political culture.

Life Cycle Effects

The impact of age-related factors in the formation of political attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.

Generational Effects

The impact of events experienced by a generational cohort on the formation of common political orientations.


The members of one's own generation.

Gender Gap

Systematic variation in political opinions that exists between males and females.


The attribute of an individual's opinion that indicates a preference for or against a particular issue.


The attribute of an individual's opinion that indicates how central it is to her or his daily concerns.


The attribute of an individual's opinion that measures how strongly it is held.


The attribute of an individual's opinion that measures how consistently it is held.

Informational Support

The attribute of an individual's opinion that measures his or her amount of knowledge concerning the issue.

Benchmark Survey

A campaign poll that measures a candidate's strength at the time of entrance into the electoral race.

Trial Heat Survey

A campaign poll that measures the popularity of competing candidates in a particular electoral race.

Tracking Polls

Campaign polls that measure candidates' relative strength on a daily basis.

Push Poll

Campaign tactic that attacks on opponent while pretending to be a poll.

Exit Poll

Interviews of voters as they leave the polling place.

Scientific Polls

Any poll using proper sampling designs.


The individuals whose opinions are actually measured.


The people whose opinions are being estimated through interviews with samples of group members.

Probability Sampling

A sample design showing that each individual in the population has a known probability of being included in the sample.

Simple Random Sampling

Technique of drawing a sample for interview in which all members of the targeted population have the same probability of being selected for interview.

Systematic Sampling

A sample design to ensure that each individual in the population has an equal chance of being chosen after the first name or number is chosen at random.

Sampling Error

The measure of the degree of accuracy of a poll based on the size of the sample.

Leading Question

A question worded to suggest a particular answer desired by the pollster.


Opinions generated by a poll that do not exist in reality.

Political Cynicism

The view that government officials look out mostly for themselves.

Political Efficacy

The belief that an individual's actions can have an impact on the political process.

Political Ideology

A cohesive set of beliefs that form a general philosophy about the role of government.


Political philosophy that combines a belief in personal freedoms with the belief that the government should intervene in the economy to promote greater equality.


Political philosophy that rests on belief in traditional institutions and a minimal role for government in economic activity.


Political Philosophy expressing support for greater economic equality and for traditional social values.


Political philosophy that espouses strong support for individual liberty in both social and economic areas of life.


One who thinks about politics almost exclusively through the prism of his or her ideologies perspective.

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