Tides of Consent Paper

1005 WordsMar 13, 20135 Pages
In American politics, public opinion is mostly a latent force that typically has no important bearing on national decision making unless citizens become unusually attentive to politics. Many citizens are uninformed, which leads to inconsistent opinions. In Tides of Consent, there are many factors that shift public opinion. Some changes are fast and responsive, such as spikes in presidential approval, and some changes are slow, and occur in increments that may be overlooked. Public opinion in American politics is meaningless individually, but aggregately, public opinion is meaningful. Gradual, tidal opinion change is the type of change that is most important. Over the long term, what the public wants from the government is relativistic.…show more content…
Campaigns in politics are important in determining outcomes and inform the voters who remain undecided. Also, campaigns matter because although the candidates or media officials may know what the outcome will be, the voters themselves do not (107). Aside from campaigns, conventions are also important, if not more important. Party nominating conventions affect the apathetic, uninterested electorates who think conventions are interesting and exciting, often known as the Olympic games of politics (121). This experience for voters can carry influence, and is a time of “intense political learning” (129). Therefore, aggregately, conventions make public opinion meaningful because the citizens who watch make an informed decision about a candidate, and have facts about why they will vote for that candidate. The chief reason why individual public opinion is meaningless during presidential elections is the “nonattitudes.” Nonattitudes are survey responses made up on the spot during an interview by a respondent who has no attitude on politics (113). Therefore, these individuals diminish the value of public opinion because we hate inconsistency and this creates an abundance of views on issues. However, during election night, exit polls support why aggregate opinion is also important. Exit polls are meaningful because one hundred percent of those leaving the polls have voted (102). Therefore, we can get real results from the electorates and this makes collective public opinion
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