Evaluate the degree to which public preferences match public policy
This assignment asks that you evaluate the degree to which public preferences match public policy. In order to make this reasonable, focus on one particular national public policy. After choosing the policy area, you will describe the level of public support for the policy and the specifics of current policy, with the goal of determining if public policy matches public preferences. Below are specifics regarding the items to include in your discussion. Two double-spaced pages in essay format should be adequate to cover all of the items. 1) Begin by choosing a topic, and then a specific policy related to that topic. For instance, if one were to focus on immigration policy, your discussion might focus on DAPA, DACA, building a wall, deportation, a path to citizenship, etc. 2) Determine the public preferences for your chosen topic. This will include several considerations. a. What level of support do you use to determine the adequate level of support (or opposition) to declare it the public’s preference (a simple majority, 60%, 75%)? This is important as you need an objective criteria for determining the linkage between public opinion and public policy. b. Aim to find opinion data from more than a single poll. Has opinion changed over time? What is the general (perhaps average) preference across a variety of polls? Does the public’s opinion consistently meet the criteria you chose above? Would it be clear to a lawmaker that the opinion reflects a direction in policy (for or against etc)? c. Make sure to describe actual values of polling data (that is your evidence) rather than less formal presentations of your interpretation of the data. (A chart might help here). d. Sources: You are welcome to use polling data from any reputable source. However, be sure to use several polls (the more data points the better). Below are suggestions for sources: i. Polling Report is a compilation of a variety of polls that are categorized by issue <link is hidden> ii. Gallup provides polling data on a variety of policy issues, some of which cover a long period of time. <link is hidden>iii. Major news sources, such as the New York Times, also tend to have some polling data. In most cases, besides the above sites, it is likely best to start with a quality search engine. 3) Policy Specifics and Public Preferences a. Once you have documented the public preferences, describe the current policy. i. What are key elements of the specific policy? 2
ii. Can these elements be clearly related to public opinion? That is, would it be straightforward for a lawmaker to determine if they should support, oppose, change, keep the same, etc., the policy given the polling data described above? b. Finally, and the goal of this assignment, does public policy match the preferences you report? i. Is it a clear case of the current public policy matching public opinion or not? ii. Or, is it less clear due to a variety of reasons, such as unstable public opinion, lack of a clear majority, polling data that does not exactly match the specifics of the public policy, etc.? iii. Overall, what does this limited glimpse into the linkage between mass preferences and public policy say about democracy in the United States? 4) Grading a. The expectation is that this will be presented in a professional, formal report. b. The key component of the grade will be the substantive discussion of the linkage (or lack of) between public opinion and policy. c. Language and style should read like an analysis brief rather than a thought piece. d. Data should be presented in an easily readable format and in a professional manner. (For instance, do not simply cut and paste long lists of poll findings, but rather create a table or graph if needed to allow the reader to understand the data).