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Americans are very vocal about what they believe in and what they expect from the government. Public opinion is a highly regarded aspect in American politics because it is what allows the government to understand what Americans want. It is one of the ways in which politicians are also able to gauge how citizens feel about elected officials and certain political processes. Public opinion is necessary for sustaining a healthy and strong democratic America since it gives power to the people by allowing them to voice their thoughts and opinions. Public opinion can be divided into two different types: preformed opinions and latent opinions. Preformed opinions are broad and nonspecific opinions regarding general issues, such as expectations from the government and other general principles regarding politics. On the other hand, latent opinions are those that are formulated on the spot. These are opinions that are drawn up by people right when they are asked about the topic. It implies that there was not much research or investigation involved before the opinion was created. ¬†Latent opinions are much more common among Americans than preformed opinions. Preformed opinions are more prevalent among those who are more engaged in politics. Between these two types of public opinions, there are many factors that can influence each. Preformed opinions are greatly influenced by one’s background and upbringing, and they are also often determined by the beliefs of one’s parents. The community and the environment one grows up in plays a very large role in determining how he would perceive the world, and thus very often influencing his preformed opinions as well. One example of this is liberal or conservative views of politics. Typically, people grow up being one or the other, and it would not require on-the-spot thinking for a person to declare which side he identifies with. Preformed opinions commonly refer to broader political ideologies and political parties, and not so much in terms of more specific political issues. They are generally consistent throughout a person’s lifetime, and it can often set the foundation for latent opinions. Latent opinions, on the other hand, are influenced by social groups and personal experiences, but religious beliefs and political ideologies affect them as well. As people get older, their influences start to branch out farther than just their families. Friends, coworkers, and other relationships begin to shape their opinions as well. People have a tendency to share similar beliefs with those who look like them and those who share similar experiences. Politicians and leaders can also influence latent opinions by being sources of information and presenting their own ideas, and so people may take those opinions for themselves as well. Latent opinions are not very well-formed as they are normally opinions that are formulated when necessary. In the case of latent opinions, when a person is asked for an opinion on a topic he is not very familiar with, one would form the opinion by pulling material from the accumulation of influences that he has. These are called considerations, or bits of information that one takes from their influences, and their on-the-spot opinions are formed through this. But between both preformed and latent opinions, there are other influencers that could affect either of the two, such as ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, and religion. These factors could contribute to longstanding opinions, but they could also influence on-the-spot ones.Public opinion is important for a healthy American democracy because it gives power to the people. It is what allows Americans to voice out what they believe in for society, and politicians and political parties can listen to these opinions to try to cater to the masses. Americans take action in politics according to their opinions, by means of voting, contacting their local and state politicians, etc. Public opinion also allows politicians to measure how the public perceive them and their work. Politicians often listen to the public because this wins them over, and thus helps them win the public’s favor when it comes to elections. Public opinion allows a more accurate and balanced representation for the public. Although, it is not always the majority of the public opinion that is chosen. Sometimes, it is the minority. Public opinion sheds light on important topics and gives the government a heads up on what citizens believe should be addressed. It provides Americans and the government a healthy means of communication, and gives both the opportunity to understand each other. It ensures that the governed get a say on what what policies affect them and what issues are in need of being addressed. Public opinion is a crucial aspect to the identity of American democracy. All Americans have their own sets of opinions about the government, and those could fall into one of two types: preformed and latent opinions. And though not every opinion is necessarily formed through thorough and extensive research, such opinions are still crucial. Opinions are culminations of many layers and influences that shape each individual. The opinion of the public is a very important aspect for politics as it could change outcomes of elections and policies. The United States is very diverse in people and opinions, and often times people bump heads with what they believe is right. But in that very matter is the beauty of American democracy and liberty. The people are free to express their opinions on the government and what rules over them. It gives power to all Americans.

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