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""Possible Effects on the Political Beliefs of American Voters""
"Possible Effects on the Political Beliefs of American Voters"
William Katz
"Possible Effects on the Political Beliefs of American Voters"

Many factors affect the way American citizens view political ideas and decisions. Often one's environment or background strongly influences the opinions that one develops over time. However, while these variables make an impact on American political beliefs, they cannot always predict how an entire group will vote.

One's family background generally shapes a person's political views. Children begin identifying with their parents' political beliefs very early in life. By fifth grade, over half of American children identify with a specific party, and another fifth claim to be independents. As children grow older, they take on even more of their parents' views. By the time they are finishing high school, only nine percent of children identify with the party opposite to that of their parents. Although once children leave the nest, their parents' influence lessens; about sixty percent of American adults retain the same party affiliation as their parents. However, children frequently have opposing views on specific issues and party policies. This difference in opinion is often explained through variance in generational values, more idealism in young people, or lack of thorough communication of consistent positions by parents to their children.

Peer group, social class, religion, and geographic area also have effects on a citizen's beliefs. Just as children pay attention to the views of their parents, people respond to the thoughts of their peers. Political discussion and activity exposes people to other ways of thinking, which may cause them to change their ideas to match those of their peers. One's peers are usually in the same social class, and live in the same geographic area. Certain religious denominations share many of the same voting patterns. When religious and ethnic groups first immigrated to the United States, they settled in the same areas, had the...

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