A Citizen's Guide to Politics in America: How the System Works & How to Work the System

By Barry R. Rubin | Go to book overview
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6
Information and Persuasion

Information is the single greatest tool of persuasion in the issue advocate's arsenal. Used creatively, it can shape reliable public opinion and influence decision makers.


Information and Advocacy

Identifying and Bridging the Public Opinion Gap

Issue campaigns are not created in the abstract. Initial polls and focus groups yield valuable clues about how the public views an issue. A careful review of the public opinion data will allow issue advocates to identify the "public opinion gap": the distance between their own understanding of an issue and the public's. What do issue advocates know about an issue that the public does not? And how might that information, if properly packaged and delivered, bridge the gap and change the public's mind?

Campaigns start, of course, with what the public knows -- or thinks it knows about an issue. If 70 percent of the public supports the death penalty, do those supporters believe that the death penalty is an effective crime deterrent? Do they understand the added costs of prosecuting death penalty cases and the lengthy appeals process? Are they aware of the disproportionate number of minorities executed? Do people believe that putting violent criminals to death will at least save

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