Measuring Public Opinion
Shape of public opinion found: Voting, Lobbying, Books, Pamphlets, Magazine & Newspaper articles, Editorial Comments (press/radio/TV), Paid Advertisements,
Letters (to Editors/Public Officials), Means tell nothing reliable about said opinion (size of group/strength of opinion)
- Voice of people represented through ballot box.
- Votes cast for various candidates taken as evidence of people’s approval/rejection of stands taken by those candidates/parties
- Mandate – the instructions or commands a constituency gives to its elected officials
- Election results seldom accurate as voters make choices in elections that generally have little to do with candidates stand.
- Interest groups – private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape public policy
- Also known as pressure groups and special-interest groups
- Chief means by which public opinion is known
- Present views through: lobbyist, by letters and telephone calls, in political campaigns, etc.
- Difficulties in public officials deciding: How many people does group really represent? How strongly do they hold these views that an organization says they hold?
- Described as mirrors and molders of public opinion
- Said that the views expressed in newspaper editorials, syndicated columns, news magazines, television commentaries, are good indicators of public opinion.
- Media not very accurate, often depicting the views of vocal minority
- Public officials have frequent/wide-ranging contacts in multiple forms w/ large # of people
- Members of Congress receive bags of mail, hundreds of phone calls and e-mails gauging public opinion
- Top administrative figures go on the road selling the President’s programs and gauging the people’s reactions.
- Many governmental officials also have a # of contacts with the public. These people encounter the public in their offices, public meetings and...