Political scientists and public opinion experts often describe public opinion in terms of three features: direction, intensity, and stability. Here is what they mean.
One key question is whether public opinion on any given topic is positive or negative. For example, are people for or against spending more money on national defense? Do people support or oppose a cut in taxes? On most topics, public opinion is mixed* with some people expressing positive opinions, and other people holding negative opinions.
This refers to the strength of opinion on a given issue. Generally, Americana do not have intense opinions about most political topics. When they do have strong feelings, however, many are often willing to act upon them by voting for or against a candidate, working in an election campaign, or even participating in demonstrations.
Experts explain that the stability of public opinion—meaning how firmly people hold their views—may differ greatly from issue to issue. People's opinions are less likely to change when they have a firm belief about a topic. For example, most people's opinions about civil rights are more stable than are their opinions about political candidates. In many campaigns, especially for
president, voters change their minds many times before Election Day. Thus, public opinion on candidates is relatively unstable.
Explaining Why is public opinion on political candidates considered unstable?
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