Political Attitudes Essay, Research Paper
A variety of factors, including but not limited to; family, peers, the media and education shape political attitudes. Many things influence the way people feel about politics, and depending on the immediate environments, views can change dramatically.
Family can influence the political party that people belong to. Family can also influence the way in which a person does or does not vote. If a family has traditionally voted democratic, chances are that the children will vote the same way. There is an emotional attachment to the way in which a family has voted, and that affects the way the new voter will vote. In part, people vote the way their family has because they do not want to be different then their family, there is also the fear of letting their family down. On the other side of the coin, the new voter could go totally against his or her family.
Peers play an important role in guiding the new voter. Regardless of what people might say, they want to fit in. In order to avoid being different people will tend to follow others and have the same beliefs as their peers. The psychological affect that peers have on a voter is almost as strong as the ties to the way the voter?s family votes.
Education has a significant affect on voting. The more education a person has the more likely they are to vote. Education also gives the voter the tools needed to decide what party, if any they will join. For example, a family who may be republicans, will, to some degree influence their children and relatives to vote republican, but the relatives and children?s peer group may be democrats, but when it comes down to choosing a party the education that individuals have earned will ultimately aid them in their decision.
The media can convince, confuse and or mislead a voter. During elections, ads on television radio and in newspapers can overload a voter with information. The information provided by the media is often taken out of context. When people read or see something on television or in a newspaper, they take it as fact, whether the information is negative or positive it is taken at face value. Eventually the truth comes out, but often it is not until after an election. The major problem with the media is they can persuade a voter against a candidate, only to find out later that the person they voted for is not what they were led to believe.
Socio economic factors heavily influence voter participation. The general area that a person lives in plays a role in how a person votes. The southern part of the United States has typically been a democratic region. The western region has been a republican stronghold as was the northeastern part of the country, but in recent years the north has become more democratic. Income level is also an important factor in the way a person votes. Lower income individuals typically vote democratic, where as higher income individuals tend to vote republican. Race and ethnicity play a significant role as well. The majority of African Americans are known to be democrats, as well as Latinos. Irish, Italian and eastern Europeans have typically been democrats were people of British, Scandinavian and French have supported republicans. Religion is also a factor in voting practices. Catholics as well as Jews have been consistently democratic where Protestants are typically republican.
Overall, there are a variety of factors that help people decide. By examining the socio-economic factors surrounding people we are able to generate the way the majority of people will vote. This is because people identify with what a particular parties ideas and or interests are on issues that are considered important to the individual. In the end, it comes down to the fact that higher income people typically support republicans and working class individuals support democrats.
Henschen, Beth and Edward Sidlow. America at odds. California: Wadsworth
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