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Ethan Young: Public Opinion Assignment


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The topic I chose for this assignment was based on a Gallup poll that measured what people believed as far as the genesis of our species, i.e. whether they believe in a Creationist point of view, in evolution guided by God, or in a natural evolution devoid of interference from a deity or supernatural force. The poll compared a recent poll to results from over the past 30 years, and then marks the key demographics where patterns are found. Some interesting findings are that they found that while the believe in creationism has remained constant over the past 30 years (floating between 42%-47% of the people polled), the belief in a form of evolution has risen steadily. Specifically, people who believe in a purely natural evolution have risen from 9% 30 years ago to 19% currently, while people who believe in a god driven evolution have risen from 21%-31%. Some other interesting findings include the fact that the trend of as the population gets older, it tends to believe in Creationism more and more. Now this could be either because of a generational cohort effect, i.e. as the Baby boomers get older (a generation in general that believed primarily in Creationism) the age group that believes in Creationism skews towards the older end of the range as well. Finally, one final pattern is that those of higher education tend to believe in a more natural evolution, i.e. Creationists were more prevalent in the population that had not completed High School, while Evolutionists were more prevalent in populations that had completed college and graduate education. 

The political implications of this shift in beliefs means that, as the population trends more towards a secular view of human events, there will be more public outcry and demand for a secularizing of the public and political sphere.There will most likely be a conflict between the aging generation who hold a more religious/creationist viewpoint, and the younger generations who are primarily secular/evolutionist in their beliefs. There have already been pieces of controversy, such as the much publicized “War on Christmas” or the removal of prayer from political, educational, and social events. This isn’t even to mention the ongoing controversy of how to teach evolution in the classroom, which is still causing problems in certain states. I believe that we are on the bubble of a huge generational shift, as the more religious, current majority, is soon going to shift into a minority as the Baby Boomer generation begins to die off, and there will be, no matter what, political and social implications as society starts to cater more towards the beliefs of the X-ers and the Millenials. 

Amanda Smid

America’s New Drug Policy Landscape

America’s New Drug Policy Landscape


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     In the article “America’s New Drug Policy Landscape: Two-thirds Favor Treatment, Not Jail, for Use of Heroine, Cocaine a survey is presented that shows that American’s now favor drug treatment opposed to jail time for those convicted of heroine and/or cocaine use. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 67% of American’s voted that the government should focus more on providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroine and cocaine.  These 67% voted for the government to focus on treatment opposed to focusing on jail time for those who use illegal drugs such as heroine and cocaine. The same survey shows that only 26% of Americans believe that the government should place focus on prosecuting users of such hard drugs. The support for the focus on treatment spans across all demographic groups including republicans, democratics and independents. 

   In my opinion, the focus on jail time for drug use and possession will decrease in cause of the public’s attitudes. Some states have already been affected by the public’s more tolerant drug use attitude because these states have passed new laws that have decreased the penalties for drug use. In addition, a number of states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical use and/or personal use. The fact that the majority of the nation has reacted positively to the legalization of marijuana in these states has caused the nation to discuss the overall legalization of marijuana throughout the whole country. in these examples the public’s changing attitudes towards drug use and drug use penalties has pushed the government in the same direction and in my opinion will continue to do

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Public Opinion Homework Assignment


Visit the Gallup website, Polling or The Pew Research Center at one of the following addresses:

 Scroll through the list of issues.  Select an issue of interest to you. 

NOTE: requires you to pay for access to certain data– I recommend that you only use data that are provided free of charge.        

 Read through the polling data and the analysis of the polling data (if there is any) and answer the questions below. 

1. Is there a clear public preference regarding this issue?  If so, what is it?  Why do you think this is the case? If not, why do you think there is no clear preference?

2.  Does this preference (or lack of a preference) seem to be consistent with recent policies?  Explain. 

3. What are the political implications of the public’s apparent preference or lack of a preference?  

4.  What are the political implications of the public’s attitudes regarding this issue?

5.  Are there any surprises in terms of the public’s attitudes regarding the issue?

6. Has there been any noticeable change in public opinion regarding this issue over time?  In recent years, what has this change been?  Why do you think it has occurred?

In your initial posting, give a one paragraph overview of the data that you reviewed for the homework assignment.   Be sure to highlight what you think are the most important/interesting findings.  In a second paragraph, discuss what you think the political implications are of the public’s attitudes on this issue.

· For example, in the PowerPoint presentation I mentioned that typically a majority of the population disapproves of the Congress as a whole, but approves of their individual representatives.  This is surprising given the depth of the negative attitudes about Congress.  The implications might be that since people only vote for their representatives, the Congress is not likely to change very much in the future.  So we probably should not expect to see much of a shift in the level of satisfaction with Congress – at least not a shift for the better. 

In addition to your initial post, each of you must also respond to at least two other student posts (each of these posts must relate to different issues).  Within your response you should address at least one of the following questions:

What are the political implications of these attitudes? Explain.

What did you find surprising about the results of the survey?  Explain why this is surprising.


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