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Flashcards in Public Opinion Deck (18)
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public opinion

Public opinion is the collective view of the vast majority of the population on a given issue or policy.


What is the most reliable gauge of public opinion?

The most reliable gauge of public opinion is a poll, especially because it reaches out to members of the public whose opinions otherwise may not be known.


What is push polling?

Push polling is a tactic in which political organizations will call large numbers of voters, ostensibly to poll the voters' preferences, but with the real purpose of spreading rumors and swaying voter opinions.

A push poll might ask this type of question:  "if you knew Candidate X was being investigated on a bribery charge, would you be more or less likely to vote for the person?"


_____ _____ are polls taken of voters immediately upon their exit from a polling station.

Exit polls

Exit polls are useful for news organizations that are attempting to gauge the results of an election, without waiting for the official election results to be announced.


Which political polling organization is widely considered to be America's most reliable one?

Gallup Inc., which conducts the Gallup Poll, is widely considered to be the most reliable polling organization. Gallup not only conducts polls within the United States, but around the world. 

Gallup has correctly predicted the results of each presidential election from 1936-2012, with the exception of the 1948 and 1976 elections.



Sampling refers to the random selection of people to be polled.


What is a sample size?

A sample size refers to the number of persons surveyed by a poll. The larger a sample size, the more accurate the poll.


What is sampling error?

Sampling error is a mathematical calculation for how close the results of a poll are to the characteristics of the full population that is the subject of the sample. Sampling errors are usually reported as a plus or minus number: e.g. +/- 2%.

Polls with high sampling errors are less reliable than polls with lower sampling errors.



Ideology is a belief system that determines one's opinion on the role of government and politics.


What is a reactionary?

A reactionary is one who advocates a return to a previous state of affairs. As an example, an American reactionary may argue that Social Security should be abolished. 

On the spectrum of American political opinion, reactionaries are on the far right.


What general belief systems do conservatives have about the role of government?

Conservatives view government action with suspicion. As such, they argue for limits on government's size. Conservatives also believe in slower, more gradual change and an emphasis on government's primary role in assuring national security.

Most conservatives identify with the Republican Party.


Who are the neoconservatives?

The neoconservatives (neocons) support free markets, an assertive foreign policy, overseas promotion of democracy, and political individualism. Neocons are typically members of the Republican Party. 


What do libertarians advocate?

Libertarians advocate for an extremely limited government, with limited involvement in either the economy or social issues.

Although there is a Libertarian Party, most of those who consider themselves libertarians vote either for the Democratic or Republican Party.


Where do moderates fall on the political scale?

Moderates fall midway between conservatives and liberals and usually identify with positions from both camps. In political elections, moderates are typically independent and become the target of appeals from both Democratic and Republican candidates.


What political beliefs do populists generally hold?

Populists generally hold conservative social beliefs, but liberal economic beliefs. They view the government as having a strong role in the economy, with increased regulation and enforcement of laws related to the economic sector.

Populists can be found in both the Democratic and Republican Party.



Liberals typically promote a more expansive government, believing that the government should be involved to affect social and political change. Most liberals identify with the Democratic Party.


What is a radical?

A radical advocates extreme changes to political and societal systems and may often suggest violence as the means to accomplish this change.


In the context of political beliefs, what is the gender gap?

The gender gap refers to the difference in political and public opinions between men and women. In recent years, women have tended to support more liberal policies, while men have supported more conservative ones.

Public opinion polls indicate that women are more likely to be more socially liberal, and to support spending on social services as opposed to higher levels of military spending.