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Have Americans become more or less tolerant of racial discrimination? More or less supportive of abortion? Is a new tax revolt underway? Did a "new conservative mood" dominate elections and policy discussions in the early 1980s?
Popular and academic discussions about the past and future of American politics often turn on the question of whether and how public opinion has changed. Yet for all the talk about such matters, observes political scientist William G. Mayer, there is surprisingly little hard evidence on many of these questions. The Changing American Mind is designed to fill that gap, by presenting a comprehensive history of American public opinion over the last three decades: how it changed, why it changed, and what difference that makes for American politics.
The Changing American Mind is important reading for all who are interested in American politics and public opinion. Its appendixes, which include the results of more than 250 survey questions that have been asked regularly of national samples over the last three decades, make it an indispensable reference source for everyone who studies or participates in American politics.
1. Introduction 1
Part 1: How Public Opinion Changed 7
2. Studying Changes in Public Opinion 9
3. Social and Cultural Issues 19
4. Foreign Policy 45
5. Welfare, Regulation, and the Economy 75
6. How Public Opinion Changed 111
Part 2: Why Public Opinion Changed 135
7. Generational Replacement 141
8. Social and Demographic Change 191
9. The Impact of External Events 229
10. A Framework for Analyzing Media Effects 277
11. Why Public Opinion Changed 299
Part 3: Epilogue 313
12. Public Opinion and the Liberal Malaise 315
Part 4: Appendixes 341
Appendix A. A Guide to Data Sources 343
Appendix B. Tables for Chapter 3 357
Appendix C. Tables for Chapter 4 407
Appendix D. Tables for Chapter 5 441