<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the circumstances that lead to public opinion affecting policy
  • Compare the effects of public opinion on government branches and figures
  • Identify situations that cause conflicts in public opinion

Public opinion polling is prevalent even outside election season. Are politicians and leaders listening to these polls, or is there some other reason for them? Some believe the increased collection of public opinion is due to growing support of delegate representation. The theory of delegate representation    assumes the politician is in office to be the voice of the people.

Donald Mccrone, and James Kuklinski. 1979. “The Delegate Theory of Representation.” American Journal of Political Science 23 (2): 278–300.
If voters want the legislator to vote for legalizing marijuana, for example, the legislator should vote to legalize marijuana. Legislators or candidates who believe in delegate representation may poll the public before an important vote comes up for debate in order to learn what the public desires them to do.

Others believe polling has increased because politicians, like the president, operate in permanent campaign mode. To continue contributing money, supporters must remain happy and convinced the politician is listening to them. Even if the elected official does not act in a manner consistent with the polls, he or she can mollify everyone by explaining the reasons behind the vote.

Norman Ornstein, and Thomas Mann, eds. 2000. The Permanent Campaign and Its Future . Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Brookings Institution.

Regardless of why the polls are taken, studies have not clearly shown whether the branches of government consistently act on them. Some branches appear to pay closer attention to public opinion than other branches, but events, time periods, and politics may change the way an individual or a branch of government ultimately reacts.

Public opinion and elections

Elections are the events on which opinion polls have the greatest measured effect. Public opinion polls do more than show how we feel on issues or project who might win an election. The media use public opinion polls to decide which candidates are ahead of the others and therefore of interest to voters and worthy of interview. From the moment President Obama was inaugurated for his second term, speculation began about who would run in the 2016 presidential election. Within a year, potential candidates were being ranked and compared by a number of newspapers.

Paul Hitlin. 2013. “The 2016 Presidential Media Primary Is Off to a Fast Start.” Pew Research Center . October 3, 2013. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/03/the-2016-presidential-media-primary-is-off-to-a-fast-start/ (February 18, 2016).
The speculation included favorability poll     s on Hillary Clinton , which measured how positively voters felt about her as a candidate. The media deemed these polls important because they showed Clinton as the frontrunner for the Democrats in the next election.
Pew Research Center, 2015. “Hillary Clinton’s Favorability Ratings over Her Career.” Pew Research Center . June 6, 2015. http://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/themes/pewresearch/static/hillary-clintons-favorability-ratings-over-her-career/ (February 18, 2016).

Questions & Answers

the historical development nationalism in Nigerian and it implication on contemporary in Nigerian
Ringtim Reply
the political philosophy that ordinary people can govern themselves
Trapper Reply
we know what's best for us... with humility, GOD's Word, "Do no Harm to Others" Civil and Respectful people can and should manage their own lives.. This is one of the main Tenents of our Constitution. The Federal Government is supposed to regulate Commerce, Treaties & Protect rights of Citizens
Martin
What is plutocracy
Amidat Reply
what is the answer
Emmanuel Reply
Advantages of public opinion
Edith Reply
what does abolish mean
Helpful Reply
What is government
Hassan Reply
what is constitution
Haruna Reply
It's the law of our land
shelley
The Constitution is the law of the land regarding the governance of America. However, it is not The complete Law in itself. The laws that we follow, both federally and state-wide, come from the foundations laid down by the Constitution and it's articles.
Helpful
what is on party system
Owan Reply
function of political parties
Amoah Reply
Functions of political parties
Amoah Reply
function of political parties
Amoah
function of political parties
Amoah
function of political parties
Amoah
function of political parties
Amoah
what does the idea of trade offs mean about whether pluralist theorists or elite theorists are correct
selina Reply
what is theocracy
Obadiah
what's one party system
Owan
powers of the judiciary
Princewill Reply
powers of the judiciary
Princewill
what is bicameral legislature
Moses
discuss features of Igbo
Saad Reply
what is power
Moses Reply

Get the best American government course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, American government. OpenStax CNX. Dec 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11995/1.15
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'American government' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask