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Pols-Exam 2 Notes

Exam 2 Notes
Factors that influence opinion formation:
o Family: In the realm of politics, your parents, guardian, etc. have a large impact
on the opinions you have.
o The mass media: This has a huge impact on opinion formation. In general, the
TV media and the print media is run by people who vote liberal and democrats. In
contrast, AM radio is very conservative and are run by people who vote
conservative and republican.
o School and peers: In particular, colleges and universities have a large impact on
your opinions. The vast majority of staff at colleges are people who are liberal
and democrats, and therefore people who go to college are more likely to be
o The impact of events: Particular events that happen in life can impact your
political opinion.
o Social Groups: Social groups such as religious groups have an impact on their
political ideals. Catholics and Jews tend to be liberal and vote democrat, whereas
Protestants tend to be conservative and vote republican.
o Region of the country:The northeast, some states in the midwest, and california
tend to be democrats, the south and great plains tend to be republican.
o Your gender or race: Your gender or race may make a certain political ideal more
appealing to you.
Opinion Poll: an interview or survey of a sample of citizens used to estimate how the
public feels about an issue or a set of issues.
o This sample needs to be diverse in gender, race, age, religion, geographic
location, etc.
o Among the things that makes opinion polls successful is neutral, proper question
o Question sequencing is also important. In the list of questions given, the
questions should not be in any set order, that way the question sequencing does
not affect the results.A good poll will start with asking for an approval rating,
because the person taking the survey may be impacted by the the questions.
o How you contact people for a survey is another important way to to ensure
 Arguably one of the better ways to contact people is calling people. Yet
this also has problems, such as inaccuracy from lying, or people not
answering. Another way to contact people is through mail, which is very
time consuming and costly.
 They an also be sent through email, but problems with that are spam
filters and people having multiple accounts.
 You could also put the poll on a website, but that can skew the results
due to the demographic of that website. Putting the poll on the internet,
however, can also alienate people who do not have internet such as the
poor or old people.
 Using public places for polls can be a problem due to the time of day or
the demographic that goes there.
 Most news companies do not use multiple techniques, but polling
companies will. The Gallup poll is one of the more accurate professional
polling companies.
 Typically you want your margin of error to be + or - 3%
 A reliable opinion poll will tell exactly how they came to their results.
 Reliable polls do not rely on people calling a given number.
The Types of Polls:
o Tracking Polls: Tracking polls track a candidate's daily rise and daily fall in
o Exit Polls: These serve two major purposes. These are done on election day, in
which they pull people aside after they vote to see how they voted. The first
purpose can help predict who wins the election before all of the numbers are
totalled, if done accurately. The second purpose is to collect demographic data to
find out who they voted for and why.
o Deliberative Polls: These polls expose the respondents to issue clusters, multiple
issue clusters. When they expose you to these issue clusters they are exposing
you to reliable information on the issues from multiple point of views, and after
giving you the information, they give you an opinion poll on the previously taught
Interest Groups: We have interest groups because, historically and today, the people
who are officials are generally wealthy, well educated, older, white men. These interest
groups give voice to the smaller groups of people, giving them a chance to give an
impact on politics. The federalist papers argued for the proliferation of interest groups so
no one or few groups become too powerful. Despite this, there are many interest groups
that are much stronger than others, such as the NRA, AARP, and AMA.
Techniques used by Interest Groups:
o Direct Techniques: This includes techniques such as lobbying, private meetings,
testifying before congress or state legislatures, building alliances with officials,
offering campaign assistance, providing political information, drafting legislation,
supplying nomination suggestions, rating government officials,
o Indirect Techniques: Generating public pressure, banding together with other
interest groups, using constituents as lobbyists, public protest demonstrations,
Things That Make Interest Groups Successful:
o Money: Some interest groups give money to both republicans and democrats as
to expect political benefits from being with the winning side.
o Leadership: Having an effective leader or spokesperson can go a long way for
your success.
o Membership: The more people you represent, the more voters you represent and
the more influence you have.
Third Party Candidates and Independents: In the current system, there is virtually no
chance for a third party or independent candidate to become president. Despite that,
they do have a significant impact on who does win. For example, a very strong third
party candidate can take more votes from a single side in an election. They also have
some impact in other elections, like becoming governor or being a senator or house
Primaries: When a given party selects its nominee for a given office.
o Typically take place between January and May for the vast majority of states and
localities.(Texas is in March)
General elections: Takes the two winners of the primaries, the third party candidates,
the independents running, and whoever gets the most votes becomes the office holder.
o Almost always take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in
Types of Primaries:
o Closed Primary: Sometimes before voting in the primary, you officially declare
yourself the member of a certain party, which then means you can only vote in
the primary for your party. You can nott change parties during the same year.
Despite this, it does not mean you are restricted to your own party during the
general election. In the closed primary, the exact way you declare yourself a
certain party is not uniform, but typically it is done when you register to vote.
o Open Primaries: You simply show up on election day and decide which party's
primary you vote for; You are not restricted to any certain primary. For exam
 Texas is an open primary(Arguably not truly open due to having to state
which primary you are going to vote in).
 Some argue that open primaries are flawed because they allow opposing
parties to effectively sabotage each other's primaries.
o Run-Off Primaries: Primary in which the top contenders of group running for an
office face each other in order to choose the party’s true nominee.
 The voter turnout is very low for these types of elections, from anywhere
between 1% and 5%., and these voters are the most likely voters(see
Demographics) which leads to white candidates being favored.
 There have been runoff general elections.
o Blanket Primaries: Allows a voter to vote in a primary on an office by office-party
by party basis.
 Very few states have ever used blanket primaries, including California,
Washington, and Alaska.
 In 2000, The Supreme Court ruled the Blanket Primary to be
o Jungle(Cajun) Primaries: is a primary election in which all candidates for the
same elected office, regardless of respective political party, run against each
other at once, instead of being segregated by political party. If one of the
candidates gets the majority, s/he gets the office. If there is a need for a runoff,
whoever wins the runoff becomes the office holder. In one of these runoffs,
people of the same party can run against each other.
 Most common in Louisiana, but also in various localities around the US.
Primaries versus Caucuses: Both are used to select a nominee for office, and there is
a trend towards primaries over caucuses
o Primaries are much more accessible, leading to better turnout than a caucus,
which consequently leads to more uninformed voters.
 Typically the process to vote in a primary is much shorter than a caucus.
o A typical caucus has no early voting, on election day you have to show up at a
specific time, and when you show up you are typically there for hours on end.
 It consists of separation of the voters in a precinct by the candidate they
choose to vote for, and in some cases allows for discussion and
attempted persuasion of other voters(can effectively be bullying)
Texas Two Step: Essentially a caucus and a primary. he process as a whole has been
referred to as the Texas Two-step, after the partner dance of the same name, because
Texans were required to first vote in the primary election in order to be eligible for
participation in party caucuses in which delegates were selected.
o 2/3 of results are based on the primary, and 1/3 is based on the caucus..
Initiative: When an average citizen proposes legislation, and then the voters of ours tate
or locality get to vote on the piece of legislation.
Referenda(plural of Referendum: When the state or local government proposes
legislation, and the voters vote on it.
Recall: Allows voters to remove somebody from office. Recall is different from
impeachment and removal because Recall is a much less formal process and allows
voter input.
o In Texas, there is no Recall for state officials, but is in some localities.
In Texas, the initially primary is open, runoff is closed.
Presidential Elections: Presidential elections start well in advance of the election year.
Typically 18 months in advance a candidate will announce their intentions to run. At that
point, the candidate has to go to every single state to ensure their name is on the ballot.
This means in order to be a serious candidate, you need infrastructure and considerable
effort, especially when getting through the primary process.
Convention Delegates: The delegates are selected on a criteria that varies state by
o The Delegates from the republican side are more likely to come from winner take
all states.
o Delegates are more trick to select on the democratic side due to complications
on multiple levels.
o Pledged delegates are elected or chosen at the state or local level, with the
understanding that they will support a particular candidate at the convention.
Pledged delegates are, however, not actually bound to vote for that candidate,
thus the candidates are allowed to periodically review the list of delegates and
eliminate any of those they feel would not be supportive.
o A "superdelegate" is an unpledged delegate to the Democratic National
Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for whom they want to
o In 2012, Mitt Romney won the popular vote in Louisiana, but did not get a
representative amount of delegates.
o Delegates are unlike the average voter.. They tend to be extremely partisan,
white, wealthy, more educated, and older.
o The party in power, aka the party with the president in the white house, holds its
convention last.
Electoral College: Only for the general election for president. We use this to select our
president, instead of using the popular vote. The vast majority of the electoral college is
winner take all, all but 2 states. Those two use Proportional representation, and those
two states are Maine and Nebraska. All candidates care about is winning the plurality.
o The electoral college is based on the House Representatives nationwide(435)+
(100)Senators+DC* which has 3 votes. *DC can have as many votes as the least
amount of votes any state has.
o Any given candidate needs 270 EVs to win
 540 and 270 are subject to change based on the amount of states since
each state gets 2 senators each.
o 2000 Election Bush vs Gore:
50,456,000 votes
30 States Won
21 States Won*
271 Electoral Votes
266 Electoral Votes**
** (Adds up to a total of 537, one short of 538. That elector was Barbara
Lett Simmons and she abstained from voting as protest to the notion that
Washington DC is not a state. Some argue that she did it to bring
attention to the fact that Bush won florida by 537 votes)
Bush v Gore(2000): The initial vote in Florida had Bush winning at about
1,200 votes. The state law allows for a machine recount in close cases
like this, and the machine recount amounted to 537 votes different. Gore
challenges this, and goes to the supreme court to order a hand recount,
especially given the problem with the voting sheets(Hanging Chads,
Dimple Chads, Double votes, etc.) The Florida Supreme Court says that
Gore is entitles to a hand recount, so they did the hand recount in only a
small amount of counties.The problem was that there was no uniform
standard, so the recount was very messy and inconsistent with what was
counted as a vote. The case gets fast tracked to the US Supreme Court,
and they ordered Florida to halt the hand recount until the US Supreme
Court came to a decision. The Majority of the Supreme Court held that Al
Gore was entitled to a hand recount that is uniform across the entire
states, however they said he could not have that recount due to the short
amount of time was critical due to the time to submit electorate votes was
fast approaching. Florida specifically had to submit theirs around a day or
two after, so it was basically impossible to do the recount so they had to
go with the original results.
10/29/16- First 45 minutes class: https://www.c-span.org/video/?409916-1/libertarianparty-holds-presidential-debate
Electoral College Reform:
o First Option: Abolish the electoral college
o Second Option: Every Single state and DC Adopt the Congressional District Plan
 Plan that Main and Nebraska currently have. In a given state, you go US
house district by US House district and see who wins the popular vote.
You get one vote for each district that you win, and the majority winner
gets +2(For senators). If it ties, they split the 2.
o Third Option: Keep the electoral college, but abolish the electors. If each state is
winner take all, the one who wins gets all electoral votes, but removes the human
element of the electoral college that currently allows for public defiance in their
Congressional Elections:
o Generally the candidates tend to be less visible.
o The vast majority of Congressional candidates have served in a state legislature
at some point.
o Name recognition is usually the most important part of the ballot.
o An incumbent is someone who is currently in office that is seeking reelection.
o Incumbents have a huge advantage over their challengers, and tend to win
around 90% of the time.
o The times when they don't win includes times where they get involved in a
scandal(See Anthony Weiner) or if your district gets redrawn.
o Advantages:
 They have the Franking Privilege. This means free mass mailing, and
incumbents typically use these for their elections and campaigning.
 The fact that incumbents typically have easy access to the local media.
They have Constituency service, which means that they tell the people
who run their offices to be nice and helpful to their constituents, along
with that they build the goodwill of the community. This helps their public
reputation and influences likely voters.
 Interest groups are more likely to give money to the incumbent because
the incumbent is likely to win.
Why is Voter Turnout in America So Low?
o People say they're too busy to vote, and hence they don't vote.
o Some people say it is difficult to register to vote
o How difficult it can be in some states to absentee vote
o The number of elections(Primaries, Runoffs, General Elections, Special
Elections, Midterm Elections, Odd Year Elections)
o Voter Attitudes- Many voters believe that their vote does not matter
o Many voters who are not very passionate about politics(independent views, weak
partisan views) don't see any reason to vote.
o The time of primaries(varies by state)
Vote Republican
o Chambers of commerce
o White People
o Business Executives
o The western part of the US
o White Collar workers
o High Status Protestants
o Traditional Married Couples
o Conservatives
Vote Democrat:
o Labor Union Members
o African Americans
o Hispanics
o Asians
o Women
o Young people 18-24
o Blue Collar Workers
o Unemployed
o Catholics
o Jews
o The Widowed
o Liberals
The Media (Companion Slides provided on Blackboard READ THROUGH IT)
o Technology has vastly changed the way the media communicates to the public
as well as creates more focus on critical talking points, unfortunately this also
creates a lack of respect in the media that we previously had(ie Getting in a
politician's face, not respecting politicians) Nowadays anything is fair game,
including all your dirty laundry.
Influential Newspapers:
 New York Times
 Washington Post
 Chicago Tribune
 Los Angeles Times
Wall Street Journal
USA Today
Christian Science Monitor
 These newspapers are considered influential because they
influence what ends up on TV news, their stories many times can
be the starting point for research, and these newspapers are read
across the entire country.
 Newspapers tend to be much more fact based, while other forms
of news tend to be very opinion based.
Agenda Setting:
 The media is really good at setting the agenda and emphasizing on focal
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