American Government Homework Six Answers
1. Give two reasons why Internet polls are not accurate representations of what the overall public thinks.
(1) The same person can vote over and over to make him look like multiple people
(2) The more wealthy and younger people tend to use the internet more, while real voters tend to be older
2. Explain what an exit poll is, and why it may be too inaccurate to predict the outcome in a very close election.
Voting is considered to be a private matter and in a close election enough people may lie or refuse to say how they voted to cause an exit poll to predict the wrong outcome.
3. The media talks about political views as though they are on a straight line: the “left” is liberal, the “center” is “moderate”, and the “right” is “conservative”. Why might a circle be a better model than a straight line?
“The circle model is a better and more realistic model than the straight-line model because it depicts the convergence of the views of liberals and conservatives as they become increasingly radical. A heart-shaped model would be even better, however, because it would also depict the black hole that moderates fall into as they move closer and closer to the center.” (Thanks to JS)
4. The fastest growing age group of voters in America is: (a) under 18; (b) between 18 and 35; (c) over 65; (d) over 100. What is the significance of this demographic fact?
Over 65, which means that campaigns often focus on giving more money to the elderly through Social Security and Medicare.
5. The best single predictor of how a group votes on Election Day is _____________. Explain.
The best predictor of how a voter will vote is how much he attends church or a house of worship. The more someone prays, the more conservative they tend to vote. This is not always true, but it is usually true. Note how candidates pretend to be religious the closer it gets to election day!
6. Children argue with their parents about politics, but usually vote as they did. E.g., children of Democrats usually become Democrats themselves. Why?
People vote in ways that they are used to. There is an exception to this rule, as public schools can exert a strong influence on children also.
7. Design a two-question poll about the death penalty that is slanted in order to maximize a response against the death penalty. Then design poll questions about the death penalty slanted in order to maximize support for it.
Against the Death Penalty
"Do you believe in giving someone a second chance?" (thanks to SR)
“Is it right for the government to murder people?” (thanks to SC)
“Do you think murder is a crime? Do you think the death penalty is murder?” (thanks to RV)
“Do you support legislation to hunt down and slaughter the criminals in our country?” (thanks to KG)
For the Death Penalty
“Would you feel safe knowing that murderer, who has served out his/her prison sentence, or is on parole, could be living in your neighborhood?” (thanks to EJ)
“Are you in favor of your tax money being spent to pay for the room and board for life for a convicted death row murderer?” (thanks to MA)
“Should we kill people that deserve to die?” (thanks to SJ)
8. The most reliable poll about the political prospects of the president and his party is his “approval rating” (see handout). Why is this poll more reliable than most polls?
“The question is simple enough and easy to understand ....” (thanks to AS)
“This poll is more reliable than most polls because it isn’t slanted in any way. ...” (thanks to CM)
9. Do polls have too much influence in American politics, or do they have a valuable role? Explain with an example.
"There are definitely too many polls conducted in American politics. One or two polls wouldn’t hurt the country, because they keep the people informed about the candidates in the election and how they are doing. However, most polls are usually wrong and give false information to the people. I believe a few polls would be a good thing, but way too many polls are being conducted from too many different sources." (thanks to SR)
10. Would the Republicans have a better chance of beating Hillary Clinton in 2008 by nominating a conservative or a "moderate"? Explain your answer.
A conservative candidate would attract higher turnout by conservative voters, and might have a better chance of winning.