Public Opinion POlls

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Demi Doty drd240 Professor Courtney Harris PS 1113 American Government 25 February 2019 Week 6 Homework Prompt: What is public opinion and how is it made measured (make sure you mention the types of polls). How does your opinion transfer to media coverage? How does the media affect you as a voter? The textbook defines public opinion as, “ A collection of popular views about something, perhaps a person, a local or national event, or a new idea.” It is important to note that a person’s beliefs and attitudes are inherently tied to their opinions. I personally would be the typical person that falls in this category. My beliefs are based primarily from the way I was raised and the type of environment I was raised in. As you can imagine, people begin raised in so many different types of environments is one of the reasons for so many different types of opinions. From the class lecture, I learned there are several factors that influence public opinion. First political socialization begins at a very young age where one follows the footsteps of their parents and community.

Political socialization is where you learn about the political realm starting from a young age and progressing through school teachings to form a political view. I tagged along with my parents to vote for a long as I can remember. When I turned 18, without being told I took it upon myself to register to vote. I did not rely on anyone to tell me to register, I felt it was important liberty and I wanted to exercise my right to vote. My attitude about the world, in general, changed after I attended my junior and senior year of high school at The Mississippi School of the Arts. While at this school I was exposed to a more liberal type of thinking and a wide array of different types of individuals. My eyes were opened and slowly over a two-year period, my attitude changed to be a bit different from my parents. My political beliefs are now the polar opposite of my parents. In the text, I was reading about how information shared through social media has a socializing effect on people. I see this daily where people share stories and articles that reveal their political beliefs. Let me tell you about a “funny” that happened to me just a month ago. I went to my grandmother’s house to type a paper because my Internet was down at home. While there I logged into my Facebook and forgot to log out.

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A few days later I started seeing all these “Trump” supporting memes and quotes. I was humiliated to think that all MY friends thought that I was posting that stuff. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to figure out my mistake. Media plays a major role in socializing the people of the United States. Everywhere we turn, we are exposed to the media through newspapers, television, radio, and the Internet. The media can present information to its audience in one of two ways with covert content or overt content. Covert content is said to be shared with us as neutral, taking neither side but just presenting the information. Overt content clearly presents only one side. I think with President Trump’s sordid background that the media has chosen to present primarily overt content during his campaign and his presidency. At the same time with his irrational statements and tweets, it is the easier road to take than trying to find the good things he is doing. In this day and time, there is much power in public opinion. In the class discussion, I learned about the different types of Polls. Polls can take place in person, by phone, mail, or internet. In the past, polling took place by going door to door, but this was very expensive and not accurate. Face to face polls still takes place such as exit polls which happen when a person is leaving a polling location. Gallup and Roper are widely recognized names used for gathering poll information. These organizations are known for randomly selecting places to gather information from all different groups making sure that that the poll represents everyone. Most polling occurs over the phone or through the Internet. Gallup uses a process called random-digit-dialing by a computer to reach different area codes that they are targeting. Many polls are computer-assisted with robo-polls.

This is a computerized questionnaire that is given to the person who answers the telephone. This is not a reliable poll due to the fact that many people do not take them seriously, may key in the wrong answer, or even have a child answer the phone and answering the questions. From my experience the minute I hear a computerized automated program on a call, I hang up. The biggest deterrent in this not being successful is because of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (1991) which makes it illegal to call cellular devices. A newer type of poll called, push polls, is an interactive questioning type poll where the person is asked a series of questions and if answered a certain way will try to sway the person to change their beliefs under the pretense of being an opinion poll. The media no doubt affects me as a voter. As a young person in the last election, I got to vote for the very first time! Honestly, I went to the polls simply to vote against Trump. The things I heard in the media had a direct impact on my opinion. In the future, I hope that I am a more responsible voter and will take the time to research the candidates and make decisions based on my own findings. I do not feel that my opinion transfers to media coverage because I do not publically go online through social media and state my political views. Even though my parents support Trump, they do so within our household and have taught me not to post everything about my life on social media. Therefore the only people that know my political views are the people that specifically ask me or folks like you that encourage me to state my opinions in class or through essays.

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