Public opinion can be defined as an aggregate of individual views, attitudes, and beliefs about a particular topic expressed by a significant proportion of a community. This is very important to political parties. They base their ideas, and campaigns on what most people think and try to respond to the majority. For example, most people think that shoplifting is wrong so laws have been passed to punish those who do. Public opinion is never static. It is an evolutionary process that we, as citizens, go through as we try to make sense of complex issues such as education reform or social security.
The process can be laid out in five steps. Step 1: The public becomes aware of an issue, usually though the media. However; we are not aware of any specific details or solutions. Step 2: People develop a sense of urgency. The public begins to feel that something needs to be done, usually as a result of some external event.
Step 3: People start to look for answers. Due to the sense of urgency, the public gets eager for answers and starts exploring potential solutions to the problem. Step 4: Solutions get thought out. As times goes on we start to rationally weigh the pros and cons of real solutions. Voting on issues usually occurs here.
Step 5: People accept the change. This step is achieved over time. Usually the more complex the issue, the longer it take for the public to accept sacrifices, trade-offs, and change. By taking time to listen and communicate with the public, our leaders can sometimes sense how strong the public's opinion is on a certain issues and curtail their campaign, or laws, to get the favorable vote. Not to be underestimated, public opinion is a big part of todays politics..