ap gov study guides

⚖️  Unit 2: Interactions Among Branches of Government

🗳  Unit 5: Political Participation

4.6 Evaluating Public Opinion Data



⏱️  1 min read

written by

isabela padilha vilela

June 8, 2020

The Role of Public Opinion 

Through the collection of accurate public opinion, it is expected that the government acts according to the majority opinion of this poll or survey. Or, it is expected that the results of the survey will accurately predict the outcome of an election, for example. Public opinion can define the future of public policies, and can even help politicians and parties draft their platform! 📊

During the evaluation of a survey, scientists have to identify some aspects: 

  • Intensity - How strongly people hold a particular opinion.

  • Manifest Opinion - Widely shared opinion about an issue. 

  • Salience - Individual’s measure of how a particular issue affects them. 

One example of how public opinion can affect American Politics is the Clinton-Trump Presidential Elections of 2016. According to the polls executed before the outcome of the elections, the likelihood of Hillary Clinton (D) winning the election was 90%. Although the candidate did win the popular vote, Donald Trump (R) won the elections, also through the electoral college vote. But, the poll community realized that there were some factors that may have led to misleading results in the previous votes, such as late deciding, nonresponse bias, and lack of disclosure. 

In result, some polls and surveys can be inaccurate to interpret the support of the population. The other way that individuals can effectively ignite a political change is through voting and political participation. 👭

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