Public Opinion

Course overview.

Image source: Voxco


Do people hold strong opinions on issues? Where do they come from? What role, if any, do these opinions play in U.S. politics? In this course, we will grapple with these and other questions as we explore the attitudes and behavior of people in the United States as well as assess their influence on American politics and public policy. Throughout the semester, we will examine how public opinion is formed, measured, communicated, and reflected in politics and policy. In doing so, we will pay close attention to the structures and institutions thought to shape public opinion—including the media, political campaigns, and group identities like partisanship, race, and gender. By the end of the course, students will not only obtain a greater understanding of the fundamental relationship between public opinion and American politics, they will also gain the ability to critically analyze, interpret, and evaluate quantitative survey data.