Political: Foreign Policy Essay

Submitted By jarbeckamer
Words: 1752
Pages: 8

Jeffrey Becker


Explain how public opinion/approval ratings shape both presidential and congressional agendas and policy plans. American Citizens express their opinions and convey their interests to decision makers, who ideally should consider such views when implementing policy. The news media, charged with informing citizens about the world around them, highlight events, issues, and concerns and often report public opinion about these concerns. From a calculated scientific related issue as for many others, opinion polls are a news staple. In their daily interactions, some citizens seek information and advice from others, while others attempt to persuade their friends and family to adopt particular views or vote for a specific candidate. Indeed, assessing public opinion on a particular issue and identifying the forces that shape such sentiment are critical in understanding society.

Table of Contents

Abstract i
Introduction 1
Discussion 1 Importance of Public Opinion, Polls and Ratings 1 Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy 2
Conclusion 5
Works Cited 6

Impact of Public Opinion on Policy Making


In the United States, considerable emphasis is placed on gathering information about public opinion through surveys and interviews (Matthews, 113). In fact, we could rightly ask, “If leading means engaging in collaborative problem solving, why not just continually poll people about what they think?” While keeping a finger on the pulse of the public's opinion is a valuable source of information for leaders, public participation involves more than taking a poll (Matthews, 113).


Modern public opinion polling emerged during the 19th century to predict the outcome of American presidential elections (Holsti, 439). In today's political environment, public opinion polls usually take the form of quantitative surveys designed to gauge the views of citizens toward candidates or issues. In opinion polls, a carefully drawn sample of citizens is interviewed or asked to reply to a questionnaire (either online or over the phone) with the intention of using responses as the basis for making generalizations about the entire population (Holsti, 439).

Importance of Public Opinion, Polls and Ratings

The results of the poll are often reported as the percentage of people selecting particular responses for each question in the survey (Holsti, 439). Candidates, political analysts, and the media are interested in the results of these polls so they can tell the story of changing public attitudes or can gauge what people think about important policy issues. While polls have effectively been used to predict the outcomes of presidential elections, it is far more complex to use them to gauge people's attitudes on social, political, and economic issues. This section will describe the complex the nature of public opinion polling (Holsti, 439). Some public opinion polls are more scientific than others. Unscientific opinion polls include straw polls that attempt to gauge public opinion by asking the same question of a large number of people but that do not use a random or representative sample of the population. A common type of straw poll is a Web survey (Holsti, 439). Web surveys are straw polls since the results represent the views of whomever may chose to participate in the poll rather than a carefully chosen sample. Push polls are a more manipulative form of unscientific polling. Push polls deliberately feed respondents misleading information to manipulate public opinion on a candidate or issue (Holsti, 439). In contrast to unscientific polling, more scientific polls use validly worded questions and a sufficiently large sample drawn using carefully developed protocols. The goal of scientific survey research is to be able to make claims representative of the population as a whole.

Public Opinion and American Foreign