Definitions (Write the definitions in your own words & try to insert or link a picture with each definition.)


exit polls- Polling conducted by the media on Election Day at certain polling places in order to better predict the outcome of elections. Random people are interviewed and are asked how they voted.

margin of error- Predictions made using public opinion polls can't always be accurate, so a margin of error is applied to address inconsistencies and propose that the data collected might not be totally reflective of reality.

push polls- a technique used by an opposing candidate's campaign in order to provide its interviewees with negative or harmful (or untrue) information about the other candidate while polling.

public opinion - the publics views on a particular issue at a certain point in time.

public opinion polls - interviews/surveys taken from the public in order to estimate what people are thinking about certain issues at hand.
Sample graph on Bush public opinion.

straw polls - its methods are unscientific but sometimes they actually calculate outcomes quite accurately, even though the sample is not large enough or diverse enough to represent the whole population.

political socialization- how someone acquires their political beliefs and values; often influenced by mass media, peers, etc

random sampling- a way of obtaining a sample for a poll by choosing people at random; this system is supposed to give everyone an equal chance of being polled

tracking polls- ongoing surveys that political candidates and campaigns use to keep track of their changing increases or decreases in support; they are polled every 24 hours and are a good indication of how effective a candidates campaign strategies are

political ideology- A person's (or group's) coherent set of values and beliefs abut the government and its purpose and scope

stratified sampling- just simply a variation of random sampling. Data from the census are used to divide the country into four different sampling regions, then sets of counties and metropolitan areas are randomly selected in proportion to the total national population.

Conservative -A political belief that favors more state gov’t power, less social welfare programs, a strong military and laissez-faire economy. Conservatives are generally opposed to change and prefer to keep things the way they already are.

sampling error (margin of error): The difference between the actual universe and the sample; A measure of the accuracy of a public opinion poll.

Libertarian: maintain that all persons are the absolute owners of their own lives, and should be free to do whatever they wish with their property.

Liberal: wanting or allowing a lot of political and economic freedom and supporting gradual social, political or religious change.

Text Notes & Class Notes



Many factors influence people's opinions. These factors include, religion, gender, race/ethnicity, age, region, and political ideology. Also the impact that events can have may influence people's political opinion. For example: the events of September 11 caused a profound sense of Patriotism throughout the country.

Public opinion did not begin to develop until the 1930s. Walter Lippmann's work, Public Opinion, published in 1922, began most of the growth of public opinion. In 1916 Literary Digest began mailing surveys and polls to readers in an attempt to gauge public opinion for Presidential elections.

George Gallup was one pollster that correctly predicted the outcome of the 1936 election. The Gallup Organization still exists and still predicts winners of the presidential popular vote accurately. These types of organization are very useful, but not always correct.

One way people influence other people's public opinion is through media. Everyone takes in media in many ways. There are TV shows, radio shows, and online newsletters and blogs. Campaign commercials also influence people's views on candidates. Using the media can easily sway voters from one candidate to another.


Connecting Theory to Reality