Review PPT

AP United States
Government and Politics
Exam Review
Review --Day THREE
Edwards Chapter 6 (not covered in course)
Edwards Chapter 7 (Unit 4 from our course)
Chapter 6 (review book)
Public Opinion and Political Action
Chapter 6 (Edwards)
Public Opinion and Political Action
 More than two centuries of immigration to United
States has created an incredibly diverse population
of Americans
 Numerous social and economic factors therefore
contribute to a varied forum of public opinion
 Despite differences, Americans overall share a
common political culture based on democracy and
 Today, public opinion can be a powerful tool,
especially during elections
 politicians, pundits, and even voters pay close attention to
what polls tell them is the public’s opinion
The American People
 Constitution requires census be taken every 10 years
 census collects demographic data about the population
of the United States
 information is used to:
 distribute money to federal and state programs,
 reapportion seats in the House to each state,
 determine each state’s number of electors in the Electoral
College, redraw state and federal congressional districts,
allocate funds for public services such as schools, roads,
and public transportation
The American People
 Census reports confirm United States a
nation of immigrants, a melting pot of
cultures, ideas, and people
 According to recent census data
 percentage of minorities is increasing while the
percentage of Caucasians is decreasing
 could lead to a minority majority in the next few
 (Also) first time, Hispanic Americans
outnumbered African Americans
The American People
 Reapportionment in the last two decades has given
more seats to the increasingly populated states of
California, Florida, and Texas
 states in the Northeast have lost seats
 Senior Citizens make up the largest population
group by age
 gives them significant political influence
 will put a serious strain on the Social Security
system in the next few decade
 Despite ethnic, age, and geographic diversity, US
has a shared political culture, with a common set of
political values that are widely shared
How Americans Learn About
Politics: Political Socialization
 People learn about politics and form
their political beliefs through the
process of political socialization
several different means through which
people informally acquire political
How Americans Learn About
Politics: Political Socialization
 Family:
 Families have a significant degree of influence, especially
over younger members
 most people identify with the same party as their parents do
 Mass media:
 Most Americans, especially children and teenagers, watch a
significant amount of television
 Political information is often disseminated through TV
 Younger people are much less likely to watch the news than
are adults, however, and as a result, the political knowledge
of young people today is significantly lower than that of young
people a few decades ago
How Americans Learn About
Politics: Political Socialization
 School:
 Schools educate children in American values such
as democracy and capitalism, both through
academics and through practices such as reciting
the Pledge of Allegiance
 good education also tends to produce more
politically active and aware citizens
 young people also influenced by members of their
peer group when formulating their political
attitudes and beliefs
How Americans Learn About
Politics: Political Socialization
 Religious groups and associations influence political
 Example -- during the last decade, fundamentalist Christians
have played an ever-increasing role in the politics of the US
 Socialization is a dynamic process, with learning
taking place over one’s entire lifetime
 Socialization is part of the very important nurturing process
Measuring Public Opinion and
Political Information
 Polls are the most common means of assessing
public opinion
 random sample, or a group that statistically represents the
whole population of the US, is asked to fill out a
questionnaire or answer some questions over the phone
 famous non-random sample
 The Literary Digest Poll of 1936, wrongly predicted that
Republican Alf Landon would defeat Franklin Roosevelt
in the election that year
 wording of a question is critical, and ambiguously worded
questions can affect the accuracy of a poll
 size of the sample can also affect the accuracy of a poll
and thus the level of confidence in the poll (sampling
Measuring Public Opinion and
Political Information
 Commonly, modern polls rely on random digit
dialing to draw telephone samples
 Some critics argue that polls allow politicians to be
influenced easily by shifts in public opinion and that
polls receive more media attention than do
candidates’ political platforms during elections
 Others assert that, by advancing the public’s
political agenda to poll-sensitive politicians, polls
advance the principles of democracy
Measuring Public Opinion and
Political Information
 Recent polls indicate that Americans have little
political knowledge and little faith that the
government is acting on their behalf
 Exit polls are conducted by media as voters leave
the voting booth to predict the outcomes of
 Public opinion polls have shown a trend indicating
that Americans trust government less than they used
What Americans Value: Political
 Conservative ideology:
 Favors limited government and freedom of the private
 more likely to support military spending, free markets,
prayer in school, and reduced taxes
 opposes abortion, affirmative action, and government
spending on social programs
What Americans Value: Political
 Liberal ideology:
 Favors an active central government with social and
economic responsibilities
 Favors a more equal distribution of wealth, more
government regulation of big business, more government
spending on social programs, and abortion
 Opposes increases in defense spending and military actions,
prayer in school, and tax breaks for the wealthy
What Americans Value: Political
 Women and minorities tend to be more liberal
 gender gap
 pattern that predicts that women are more likely to vote for
a Democratic candidate; however this was less prevalent in
the 2004 elections
 Traditionally, people of higher socioeconomic classes
tend to be conservative
 trend is declining
 Conservative groups tend to have more resources and
therefore more political power
 Ronald Reagan was one of the most conservative
presidents of the 20th century
 Bill Clinton shifted the Democratic Party and
government back to a more centrist position
How Americans Participate in
 Americans express their political views and try to
influence policy by voting, petitioning, participating
in protests, or corresponding with their
 Voter turnout has been declining (2008 - exception)
over the last few decades, though it is still the most
common way people participate in politics
 Young people are the group least likely to vote
 Campaign contributions to candidates as a form of
political participation are on the rise.
How Americans Participate in
 Protest and civil disobedience have a long tradition
in American history
 Protests against globalization and war continue to be
a means of political expression today
 TEA Party today classic example
 People of high socioeconomic status are much more
likely to participate in politics, although African
Americans and Hispanic Americans are becoming
more active
The Mass Media and the Political
Chapter 7
The Mass Media and the Political
 mass media, including newspapers, radio, television,
and the Internet have had a profound impact on politics
 In today’s media-savvy world, politicians are highly visible
to the public
 this has had both positive and negative consequences for
policymakers, campaigns, and the public’s trust in
 impact of the media on American politics is referred to
as high-tech politics, in which thee media can shape
the political agenda and the behavior of policy makers
The Mass Media Today
 Political leaders have learned to use the media to
set their agenda
 media event is an event that is staged by a political
leader with the purpose of getting it covered in the
media to shape an image or draw attention to a
chosen issue
 political leaders can more deliberately use
advertisements to make up the majority of spending
on political campaigns
 Presidents also use the media to make direct
appeals to the public.
The Development of Media Politics
 Politics and the mass media go hand in hand
 (whereas) once they worked together to communicate with
the public, today they often oppose each other
 Press conferences are a common means by which
presidents convey their goals and opinions to the
 recent phenomenon begun by Franklin Roosevelt in the
 FDR first president to address the electorate directly
through the radio
The Development of Media Politics
 Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War changed
the government’s relationship with the press, as the
press became more suspicious about political
 Today the media engage in investigative journalism,
often with the intent of revealing scandals
The Print Media
 Only a few corporations own all the newspapers in
the United States, as well as radio and television
 These major corporations have significant control over
information conveyed in the media
 Newspaper readers tend to be politically informed,
active citizens, but newspaper circulation has been
declining since the advent of television
The Broadcast Media
 Now, most Americans, especially young people, get
their information from the broadcast media
 Television shifts the public’s focus from a
politician’s achievements and political views to his
or her appearance and performance in front of the
The Broadcast Media
 Cable television encourages narrowcasting, which
allows viewers to select what information they do and
do not want to see
 Critics fear that this will lead to an even less informed
electorate that can selectively avoid politics
 Media in America is free and independent because it
is privately owned, but that also means it is totally
dependent upon advertising
 Over four-fifths of the newspapers in America are owned by
large corporations (chains) and this applies to much of the
broadcast media
Government Regulations of the
Broadcast Media
 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a
regulatory agency that monitors the use of the air waves
 (independent), but subject to many political pressures
 Congress controls the funding
 Presidential appointments to the agency are made with
political considerations in mind
 FCC prevents monopolies, conducts periodic examinations
of stations as part of its licensing authority, and issues fair
treatment rules concerning access to the airwaves for
political candidates and office holders
 If a person is attacked on the air, they have the right to
respond on the same station
 (However), the fairness doctrine that was once in place
(required equal time to differing views) was abolished
From Broadcasting to
Narrowcasting: The rise of Cable
News Channels
 first major news networks were described as
“broadcasting” because messages were sent to a
broad audience
 with development of cable TV, narrowcasting
(media programming on cable TV or Internet that is
focused on one topic and aimed at a narrow
audience) is a more appropriate term
 while there is now a wide variety of news programs
available, the quality of content has not necessarily
 profit motive is still the driving force behind most news
The Impact of the Internet
 internet has made political information easily
 Citizens can now use it to easily retrieve voting
records and text of legislation for example
 (However) researchers have discovered that few
Americans are taking advantage of the technology to
be better informed citizens
 impact of the Internet on politics has been subtle
Reporting the News
 Newscasting
 business geared toward achieving high ratings
 can have detrimental consequences for both the political
agenda addressed in the news and for the political
knowledge of Americans
 Profits largely determine what is considered news,
and sensational, unusual, or negative events usually
receive more attention than more positive or
everyday policymaking does
 leads the public to believe that most of politics is
scandalous and to distrust political leaders
Reporting the News
 Journalists usually have regular beats such as the
White House, the Senate, or the Pentagon
 most of their information comes directly from press
secretaries at these institutions
 this has significant advantages for politicians, who can control
how much information is reported to the public, including
intentional leaks (trial balloons), which can gauge political
 News reporting, especially through the broadcast
media, has very little depth of content
 Information is reported in sound bites, which gloss over the
complexity of issues and focus the public’s attention on
politicians rather than on their policies
 contributes further to Americans’ lack of political knowledge
Reporting the News
 Sound bites allow politicians to craft political agendas
without having to directly address an issue
 typical sound bite is only seven seconds long
 Bias is not apparent so much in the way news is
presented, but it is a actor in determining what news
is reported and what news is not
 Cable News more likely to distort
 Dramatic stories of violence or conflict are more likely to draw
an audience, so they are more likely to be featured in the
The News, Public Opinion, and the
Media’s Agenda-Setting Function
 mass media have an enormous influence over the
public agenda
 by selecting what issues to focus on, news organizations
define which are the most pressing political topics and
thereby determine the political priorities of the public
 by selectively assigning importance to certain issues, the
media essentially tell Americans what to think
 Politicians, interest groups, and protestors use the
media to their advantage by staging dramatic media
events to draw attention to themselves and their
The News, Public Opinion, and the
Media’s Agenda-Setting Function
 media have shifted attention to individual politicians and
away from government as a whole
 consequence of this is the increasing amount of attention paid to
the president, which as a result enhances power
 media perform a watchdog function by forcing the
government to be answerable to the public
 (However) they strongly discourage Americans from thinking
critically about politics.
 At the same time, because the news is based on ratings, its
content reflects what citizens want to see and read -- and they
seem to express little interest in politics
Understanding the Mass
Media/The Media and the Scope of
 media acts as a key linkage between the people and
 media’s watchdog function also helps to restrict
 watchdog orientation of the press can be
characterized as liberal or conservative

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