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This Paper Discusses The Effects Of The Mass Media And Public Opinion On Voter Choice

2745 words - 11 pages

IntroductionAs students, scholars, and the general public gain a better understanding of polls, they will have a greater appreciation of the service polls can perform in a democracy. In my opinion, modern polls are the chief hope of lifting government to a higher level, by showing that the public supports reforms that will make this possible, by providing a modus operandi for testing new ideas….Polls can help make government more efficient and responsive; they can improve the quality of candidates for public office; they can make this a truer democracy.-George GallupPurposeThis paper will entertain a brief discussion of the effects and influences on voter choice by analyzing the effects of public opinion, exit polling, conducted by the major news networks. Moreover, this discussion will encompass concepts such as the "band wagon effect", "underdog effect" as well as elevated and declining voter turnout, as well as vote choice due to the escalating media coverage of pre and post elections.The Media influenceDavid H. Weaver discusses how the American media has intensified since the early days of propagandizing WWI and the advent of the television as well as other mediums such as Radio and the internet. Weaver believes the world of academics has awakened to the fact that the media plays a larger role in the shaping of public opinion than what was once thought. "Scholarly research and thinking about media effects in the past fifty years or so have changed from a view of rather minimal influences to a more recent view of fairly powerful, but not unlimited, media effects." (Weaver 1996, 35) I would tend to believe that Weaver has underestimated the true power of the media. I believe the Media is the most influential influence in terms of voter choice and public opinion. For example, I have never seen a high-powered politician face to face in my life however, through television, radio, and the internet I can access information on any candidate and their political stances on issues that are important to me. If I so choose. "attitudes and opinions are not constructed from thin air but rather from information that people believe to be true and that is most salient or easily accessible to them."(Weaver 1996, 36) This is true because the average American voter allegedly has neither the time nor the desire to become involved with elections and the escapades of Washington. Therefore, this voting block will get the majority of its political knowledge from the nightly news and radio talk show hosts. People will turn to these sources as well as newspapers because the research has already been done for them. This is a dangerous predicament for a democracy to be in. The days of Alexis de Tocqueville's New England township and Jefferson's ward republic are nothing more than a distant memory because political participation is very low in the United states and has been for sometime now.Exit pollsExit polls are basically defined as polls of people as they leave...

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