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Understanding Public Opinion Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2022

Public opinion refers to the expressions of attitudes that are derived from the evaluation of people who make up the public or what the public thinks about things taking place in the society. Public opinion makes us create a picture of what the environment which we live in looks like. Through the analysis of a particular group of people, we can form an accurate view of the general public opinion (Butler 25). There are various methods of gauging public opinion. To come up with the public opinion on the outcome of the federal elections of Canada, two such methods will be analyzed. These are polls and discussions in public spaces.

Polls are surveys carried out on a sample of the population and the results are used to generalize the general feeling of the whole population. Various polls can yield different results (Lane 57). This is because a different sample is chosen by the different people carrying out the polls. People who have no strong political stands rely on the outcome of such polls to determine who they will vote for. Polls also provide the trend of how different political parties and political aspirants perform over time.

The advantages of using polls to determine public opinion include the fact that polls can be carried out at different parts of the country thus two or more regions can be compared and contrasted against each other. Also, polls can be carried out at different intervals of time hence can give a trend for different aspirants or political parties. In addition to that, polls give a numerical figure on the public opinion and thus are a reliable method of gauging public opinion, especially where data is required in making policies and decisions. Walter Lippmann states that polls can be used to predict future events, e.g. if several consecutive polls show an increase in the popularity of a certain candidate, then the candidate is more likely to perform better in the future(112). Lastly, polls can compare the views of different groups of the society, for example, people of different religions. This gives a breakdown of the public opinion into those groups of the important society.

The disadvantages of polls include the proneness of the polls to manipulation. Only a small number of people carry out the polls and thus they can be biased to favor a candidate or political party. Also, it is an expensive method of gauging public opinion as a sample should consist of people from different regions and religious backgrounds for it to be an unbiased sample. Experts are also required to make inferences from the outcome of the polls. Also, polls can be misleading. The feeling and views of the selected people are assumed to be the views of all the people who belong to that group (Heith 79). However, this is not always the case especially when a small sample is used. This can provide misleading results.

A poll carried out by EKOS Research and presented to politics shows that New Democrats were first at 33.6 percent while Conservatives came second and Liberals third with 28.1 and 26.7 percent respectively. However, the research showed that the Conservatives were closing the gap between them and the New Democrats fast. They had closed the gap by 5 percent in only two weeks. This shows that if this trend continues, the Conservatives are more likely to win.

The other method of gauging public opinion is using discussion in public spaces. Due to technological advancement, social media gives a better and more reliable platform where people can express their views and ideas.

Advantages of using discussion in public spaces as a method of gauging public opinion include the easiness at which the people can be reached. Reaching people using social media is not only fast and reliable but also much cheaper as compared to other methods. This is because the online platforms offer fast responses and the response can be viewed by a larger number of people. Another benefit is the versatility of the method. People from different parts of the country can not only hear, read or see other people’s views but also respond, comment, and report those views. This goes a long way in enabling people to explain their ideas thus making the public opinion more accurate. Also, the large number of people using social media platforms leads to more diverse views.

Disadvantages include the fact that the voters might not be well informed. This is because interested parties may post false information. Also, the voters may not deal with difficult policies. In addition to that, voters may be subjected to thinking as a group and that might sometimes lead to dangerous factions. Some voters may also prefer not to discuss politics (Goidel 112). Lastly, some people may not be willing to disclose their political stands on social media. This is common if they are at the top of the social classes for example the religious leaders and sportsmen and women. Disclosing their political stand may influence their supporters (Miller 89).

According to Twitter numbers sent on 9th August 2015 after the Federal Leaders’ debate, Liberal Justin Trudeau was most discussed of the aspirants with 13,244 mentions. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was third with 7,160 mentions. The Conservative Party, Stephen Harper came in second with 11,127 mentions. However, according to Ipsos, 48 percent of Canadian citizens between the ages of 21 and 25 went online to discuss politics the previous year as compared to 24 percent of those aged between 61 and 65 (Canadian Bankers Association). Although Stephen Harper has a lesser number of mentions, he is more likely to win the elections as more older people turn out to vote as compared to the young. Those who use social media platforms regularly to discuss their views are mostly learned and young. Thus this means that a majority of those captured in the tweets are not a true representation of the general public as they only belonged to the classes mentioned.

Analyzing the above two methods of gauging the public opinion clearly shows that although there is great competition between Liberal’s Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party’s Stephen Harper, Mr. Harper is more likely to win the Federal elections.

Lets’ consider the speech of the leader of the Conservative Party, Stephen Harper on the 1st of September at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn in Sault Ste. Marie:

We have seen Jihadist terrorism not only in the middle east but also in some other nations we are close to and also here. Though we in Canada are not immune, neither are we helpless. We are not at the mercy of the fanatics who reject freedom, human dignity, and the right to live of anyone different from them. We have biffed up resources to counter the threats we face. That’s why Canadian armed forces are participants in the International military coalition against Isis. We have men in uniform taking the fights in Syria and Iraq so we can be safer. Sending people on such a mission even when the partner of Canada is doing the same is a tough decision. Thomas Mulcair, who can’t bring themselves to say the words “violent jihadism “has voted against every security measure brought in Parliament. It’s their ideology to oppose such policy and Justin thinks he can just take Canada to international levels. I am amazed how liberals in NDP are always criticizing us for not being very friendly with Iran but being too friendly with Israel. There is nothing that tells you simply how much they do not get it, we are living in a dangerous world. We should see things how they are not some ideological grants. A responsibility to act, lead and protect. Our Government will lead in the course, we will not back down, not weaken our security agencies and not pull out of the fight. (Rebel Media)

References

Canadian Bankers Association – Association Des Banquiers Canadiens. 2015. Web.

Butler, Peter Marshall. Polling and Public Opinion a Canadian Perspective. Toronto, Ont.: U of Toronto, 2007. Print.

Goidel, Robert K. Political Polling in the Digital Age the Challenge of Measuring and Understanding Public Opinion. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State UP, 2011. Print.

Heith, Diane J. Polling to Govern: Public Opinion and Presidential Leadership. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Law and Politics, 2004. Print.

Lane, Robert Edwards, and David O. Sears. Public Opinion. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2012. Print.

Lippmann, Walter. Public Opinion. Dover publications, 2012. Print

Miller, Monica K., Jeremy A. Blumenthal, and Jared Chamberlain. Handbook of Community Sentiment. New York: Springer, 2014. Print.

Rebel Media. “Harper on national security.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2015. Web.

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