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Please respond to each of the four short response questions posted below. Your answers should be short, focused, and complete, ranging from one to three paragraphs. Please make sure to answer each specific part of every question. Successful answers will provide details and context that support your arguments and explain your position to the readers. You may also want to provide real world examples taken from the readings, lectures, group discussions, or your own independent thinking. These illustrations can be from the course materials or your own ideas. Providing this context and being able to apply the material to YOUR OWN understanding of politics really shows us that you have mastered the material.
1. A) Where does public opinion come from? B) Discuss its cognitive foundations and how socialization produces these. C) How do most people organize their thoughts about political issues? D) Why might public opinion be collectively rational? E) Why might it fail to be rational?
2. A) Describe important differences between focus groups, nonscientific polling, and scientific polling, including their benefits and drawbacks. B) Which is best for accurately measuring public opinion? Why? C) Why might polls be less accurate than we hope for?
3. A) What types of factors explain an individual voter’s probability of turning out to vote in an election? B) What could be done to increase voter turnout? C) Turnout was exceptionally high in the November 2020 election — given the factors above, why was this?
4. A) What factors influence how the media covers political issues? B) How do these standards influence the way the public thinks about policy problems, political events, and electoral contests? C) What could the media do to improve how Americans think about such important political problems?