7/11: Shaping Public Opinion

By Barbara Carvalho

With recent public polls showing many Americans unaware of the SCOTUS health care decision, it gives pause for thought.  How much attention  does the public really pay to news coverage of issues thought to shape Decision ’12?

Let’s take a different example.  Aside from the partisan spin that accompanied the latest 8.2% Labor Department offering, is this figure what Americans rely on to determine if the economy is on the mend, stalled, or deteriorating, or is there something else that’s working on the American psyche?

For arguments sake, let’s put the unemployment numbers on hold.  Do people base their economic assessments more on their own financial circumstances? Are they having difficulty making ends meet? Are they worried about paying their mortgage? Or, is it a chat with friends or neighbors that shapes their views?

There are many factors that shape public opinion. Debate which follows news of each D.C. stat must go hand in hand with more personal indicators to paint a comprehensive picture of public opinion.  This will help us understand Americans’ pessimism about current economic circumstances yet growing optimism that the worst may be over.