Political Science Topics
Public opinion or political opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population.
Political cultures have values that are largely shared by their members; these are called political values.
Forms of Disagreement
Political dissent refers to any expression designed to convey dissatisfaction with or opposition to the policies of a governing body.
Forming Public Opinion
Forming Political Values
People form political values throughout their life cycle through different agents of political socialization, including family, media, and education.
Models of Political Socialization
People learn political values and identities by interacting with other people and the media in a process called political socialization.
From Political Values to Ideology
Core American political values general fall in line with one of three political ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, or moderate.
Socio-Economic and Racial Demographics
Political socialization experiences differ depending on group membership, such as socioeconomic status, gender, or geography.
Family, Peers, Church, and School
People that surround a child during his or her childhood are crucial to the child's development of political values and voting behaviors.
The Mass Media
Media can have an important affect on public opinion in several ways.
Political Leaders and Opinion Makers
An opinion leader is an active media user who interprets the meaning of media messages for those less informed about political events.
Major Life and Political Events
Political socialization takes place throughout the life cycle, but major life or political events can also impact political values.
Political knowledge, in addition to political socialization and major events, impact the formation of people's political values and opinions.
Measuring Public Opinion
Constructing Public Opinion Surveys
An opinion poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample, and is designed to represent the opinions of a population.
Early Public Opinion Research and Polling
The first known example of an opinion poll was an 1824 local straw poll by The Harrisburg Pennsylvanian for the Jackson Adams race.
The Gallup Organization
Gallup Inc. was founded in 1958, when George Gallup grouped all of his polling operations into one organization.
The National Election Studies
The American National Election Studies (ANES) is the leading academically run national survey of voters in the United States.
Types of Polls
The main types of polls are: opinion, benchmark, bushfire, entrance, exit, deliberative opinion, tracking, and the straw poll.
Steps to conduct a poll effectively including identifying a sample, evaluating poll questions, and selecting a question and response mode.
A very important tool in data analysis is the margin of error because it indicates how closely the results of the survey reflect reality.
Sampling is concerned with choosing a subset of individuals from a statistical population to estimate characteristics of a whole population.
The Importance of Accuracy
Polling organization will lose credibility if they publish inaccurate results.
The Problems with Polls: Limited Respondent Options, Lack of Information, Difficulty Measuring Intensity, Lack of Interest in Political Issues
Problems with polls typically stem either from issues with the methodology that bias the sample or the responses that cause the bias.
Telephone and Internet Polling
Internet and telephone polls are very useful as they are much cheaper than most other polls and are able to reach a wide population.