Political Beliefs and Behaviors Political Culture Distinctive and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out. Americans believe in liberty, democracy, equality and civic duty. Mistrust of Government – mostly of leaders rather than the system. Political efficacy – a citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political events. Sources of American Political Culture Participation in politics in permitted by the Constitution. Absence of an established national religion. Absence of class consciousness. Political Ideology A coherent and consistent set of beliefs about who ought to rule, what principles rulers ought to obey and what policies rulers ought to pursue. Most citizens display little “ideology”, i.e. liberal, conservative, radical; except for activists. Political elites display more ideological consistency. Political Tolerance Concrete v. abstract Unpopular groups are able to survive because people rarely act on beliefs and the court system is “sufficiently insulated” from public opinion. Public Opinion The public’s attitudes toward a given government policy vary over time. Public opinion places boundaries on allowable types of public policy. Citizens are willing to register opinions on matters outside their expertise. Governments tend to react to public opinion. Polling Public Opinion Exit Polls Sampling Random Samples Distribution Sampling Errors Accuracy and Questioning Consensus v. Polarization The Origins of Political Attitudes Role of the family Schooling & information Ideology Job (Income) Race & ethnicity Religious tradition Gender Region Political Participation Conventional Participation 1. Supportive Behaviors 2. Influencing Behaviors low-initiative high-initiative Unconventional Participation – behavior that threatens or defies Group Politics v. Movement Politics Techniques of movements include marches, rallies, sit-ins, petitions, use of spokespersons, non-violent disruptions Voting The Rise of the American Electorate 1789 – white, male property owners 1850 – nearly all white adult males 1870 – 15th amendment, all men over 21 1920 – 19th amendment, all men and women over 21 1971 – all men and women over 18 Group Factors inn Voting Party Class, Occupation, Income (Standard Socioeconomic Model) Education Religion Gender Race/Ethnicity Age Impact of Progressivism Direct Primary Recall Referendum Initiative Voter Turnout, a final thought… Americans vote less, but participate more than people in other countries in other forms of political behavior. Younger voters are the least likely to vote. Restrictive laws and the burden of individual registration contribute to low voter turnout. Americans may be happy with the “system” and less likely to feel the need to vote.