Academics and professionals claim that most Americans guess their responses to survey questions; have narrow, weak opinions about the US government policies; and are easily influenced by the media based on standard narratives, politicians, corporations, or advocacy groups. Public opinion reflects public views on various government agendas and political affairs. It is extremely important for various reasons.
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First, opinions influence the political actions of the public. Second, it tends to influence and account for behaviors of different political actors, political parties, and aspirants. Politicians evaluate public opinions to determine what citizens expect from them. Finally, it generally tends to influence certain policies and their outcomes. Public opinion and the media are extremely important topics, which relate to everyday affairs covered under public opinion and issues (the subject chapter) that Americans of all social classes face today. In fact, one must assess and understand the diverse characteristics of American public opinions to comprehend the actions of the US government both domestically and globally (Soroka 27-48). The Web site, Huffington Post has been chosen for this task.
Various American public opinions shape current affairs (Bianco and Canon 124). Americans have demonstrated that public opinions have different characteristics. Ideological polarization, although not common, is now associated with Donald Trump and his campaign team. Trump, for instance, has been able to propagate issues that have gained widespread recognition because of his radical stand on issues that most people disagree about, but they are only a small fraction of major issues that exist.
For instance, banning Muslims traveling to the US, the issue of President Obama’s birth certificate, and other controversial topics are political issues with strong dissent across the political divide. Public opinion reflects how Americans view their government and other representatives, their performances, and the assessment of specific policies. The view on specific policies generally influences voting patterns for incumbent leaders.
A lack of trust has consistently been associated with the Hillary candidature after the e-mail scandal. In the end, low-levels of trust can hamper the government’s attempts to implement new policies. It also captures policy preferences, specifically what citizens want the government to accomplish. Policy mood is known to influence the federal budget on defense, immigration, environment, and race-related affairs among others.
Finally, the US government is generally influenced by public opinion, notwithstanding the weaknesses of such opinions. While political leaders strive to shape public opinion, they are ultimately influenced by what citizens want in the end. Events, family values, group identity, and politicians and political actors have continued to act as sources of opinions for most Americans.
Media are the most influential tools for the construction of public opinion in America (Gaur 136). Hence, Huffington Post and other media sources, such as television, magazines, and the Internet, play a critical role in shaping citizens’ views (Baum and Potter 39; Hadeshian 1). Media shape thinking and views held by individuals. Consequently, they remain powerful political arsenals used to advance and attain certain objectives. Media effects have emanated to describe how media shape Americans’ opinions and actions. These effects are reflected in filtering, slant, priming, and framing of coverage to influence public thoughts (Bianco and Canon 124).
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The above-mentioned media effects do not necessarily mean that every coverage is purposefully twisted and meant to influence the public in a specific way. Instead, space and time constraints could also cause unintentional media effects (Stecula, Soroka, and Wlezien 457). As such, Huffington Post may not be a good tool for learning about American politics, although it is a great source of current affairs, which reflects public opinion on issues.
Baum, Matthew A., and Philip B.K. Potter. “The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis.” Annual Review of Political Science 11 (2008): 39–65. Print.
Bianco, William T., and David T. Canon. American Politics Today. 3rd ed. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print.
Gaur, Megha. “Role of Media in Public Opinion Formation.” Masters International Journalof Management Research and Development 2.3 (2014): 136-143. Print.
Hadeshian, Seta. Public Opinion – The Role of Media. 2006. Web.
Soroka, Stuart N. “Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy.” Press/Politic 8.1 (2003): 27-48. Print.
Stecula, Dominik A., Stuart N. Soroka, and Christopher Wlezien. “It’s (Change in) the (Future) Economy, Stupid: Economic Indicators, the Media, and Public Opinion.” American Journal of Political Science 59.2 (2014): 457–474. Print.