american government and organization ps1301 wednesday, 22 october
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American Government and OrganizationPS1301Wednesday, 22 October
Knowledge Quiz: PeopleWho is Dick Cheney?Who is your representative?What office does Dennis Hastert hold?Who is William Rehnquist?
Knowledge of Political partiesWhich party is more liberal? Do you happen to know which party had the most members in the House ofRepresentatives in Washington before the election (this/last) month?Do you happen to know which party had the most members in the U.S. Senate before the election (this/last) month?
Knowledge of CivicsWho has the final responsibility to decide if a law is constitutional or not...is it the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, or don't you know? Who has the final responsibility to decide if a law is constitutional or not...is it the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, or don't you know? What are the first ten Amendments to the Constitution called?What majority is needed to override a presidential veto?How long is a senators term in office?
Knowledge of PolicyWhich party favors spending more money on defense?Which party favors spending more federal spending?
The Publics Political Knowledge89 percent identified Al Gore as the vice president (1998)75 percent know which party had a majority in the House of Representatives (1996)67 percent knew the Supreme Court decides if laws are constitutional (1992)60 percent could identify Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House (1998)46 percent know that the first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights (1989)25 percent know that the term of U.S. Senators is six years11 percent know that William Rehnquist was chief justice of the United States (2000)
Explaining KnowledgeOpportunityCapacityInterestEducation combines all three elements of learning
Does Lack of Information Matter?Uninformed populace can be manipulatedBy Media, Experts, Politicians, BureaucratsAssociated with antidemocratic viewsLow levels of participationPoliticians lead astrayVoting incorrectly
Cause for Optimism?People can make decisions without being fully informedConcept of limited rationality Random errors cancel each other out. Stability in aggregate public opinion
Trends in Public OpinionOn many issues, opinion is relatively stable.Response to crises, cycles
Stability in Opinion on Health Care
Stability in Spending Preferences
Stability in Foreign Policy Activism
Example of Opinion Shift Following Crisis
Defense Spending Responds to Crisis
Example of Opinion Change in Response to Historical Trends
Issue PublicsPeople who follow a particular issue closely and who are well informed about it and have strong opinions on it are attentive publicsPublic opinion is not a single entityWhat items in the news have drawn a lot of attention nationally or in our community? What publics have been affected? Have different publics held different opinions about these issues? How has that difference affected the direction of public opinion?