How does public opinion shape electoral behavior and democratic governance, and how have these relationships evolved as techniques for measuring public opinion have developed since the 1950s? After a consideration of models of effective democratic governance, the course will consider how public opinion is measured and interpreted in the United States by private pollsters, university-based survey researchers, and data journalists. The course will consider competing perspectives on the sources of variation within mass public opinion, such as social class membership, racial and gender identity, religious affiliation, and party identification. Throughout the course, emphasis is placed upon the alternative modes of inquiry and writing that opposing analysts adopt. Students will learn to interpret and write about public opinion patterns from these perspectives.
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