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What Is a Political Climate?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Political climate is a term describing the emotional environment generated by the public’s feelings on various political issues. This is generally measured and analyzed by public opinion pollsters who ask certain questions to get a sense of people’s viewpoints and how much passion people feel on different subjects. Political climate can have a big effect on the outcomes of campaigns for public office, and sometimes political strategy is directly tailored around a particular political environment in order to exploit the public’s mood and gain a particular outcome. The term is also often used to reference the behavior of elected representatives and the way they treat each other, although that could also be seen as a reflection of public sentiment within certain parts of an electorate, since the behavior of many representatives may directly correlate to the feelings of those who voted for them.

Pollsters look at many different factors when analyzing political climate. For instance, they may ask people if they feel that their situation has improved or worsened since the last major election, and they might ask people how confident they feel about the future. In addition to these kinds of general questions about mood, there are also usually polls that look at public approval for various parties, candidates, and political viewpoints. Looking at all these things within the context of current events allows pollsters to get an overall feeling for the mood of the electorate, and this mood often has a direct effect on the behavior of politicians. For example, if the political environment is extremely volatile in the public, politicians may be less willing to compromise with each other, leading to a very contentious governing environment.

The political climate can change in a country for many different reasons, with moods sometimes remaining stable for long stretches before becoming very volatile suddenly. In many cases, changes in the public mood can be directly related to practical issues. For example, if the economy becomes difficult and the situation isn’t resolved quickly enough, the public might become frustrated with a lack of improvement, leading to an angry political environment. On the other end of the spectrum, long stretches of prosperity can lead to a general public restfulness, and sometimes in those situations, only people with strong activist viewpoints display a lot of passion on various issues.

In many cases, political climate can be the primary determining factor behind the outcome in an election. If a large segment of the public is feeling very passionate about a particular issue, politicians who favor that viewpoint may get better turnout from voters, even if their overall viewpoint isn’t necessarily overwhelmingly popular. By the same token, politicians on the wrong end of the public’s more passionate views can be swept up in a tide and removed from office very quickly. In many cases, politicians may analyze the political mood very carefully when designing a campaign strategy, in order to create a plan that emphasizes the right issues, putting them into a strong position in relation to the public's mood.

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Discussion Comments

By Terrificli — On Oct 17, 2014

@Soulfox @Markerrag -- The very fact that we spend so much time thinking about politics and arguing over them makes me think that the government has gotten far to large. Ideally, the government was supposed to provide just a few things and not give us something to obsess over.

Sadly, things have changed.

By Markerrag — On Oct 16, 2014

@Soulfox -- Unless a politician pays attention to the political climate, he won't get elected. If he has been elected, he won't stay in office for long.

In the United States, we expect our opinions to influence our leaders. Isn't that the way it should be? If we simply required them to go about doing what they think is right without regard to what we want, how is that any different from a monarchy?

Doing the popular thing might not always yield good results, but it might just be the best way for the government to tell what the people want and respond accordingly.

By Soulfox — On Oct 15, 2014

Well that's just great. It's good to know that politicians have to check the political climate before they take stances on positions or pop off about what they believe in public.

The ideal politician should strive to do the right thing rather than watch polls and try to figure out what the trendy, popular thing is. Anyone who does less is someone who shouldn't be in office.

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