AP US Government Practice Test: Political Ideologies & Beliefs

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Question 1
Which of the following is the primary agent of political socialization?

A
Family
B
Gender
C
Race
D
Religion
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). While all four options are agents of political socialization, the family has the greatest influence an individual’s political beliefs. More often than not, people take on the political beliefs of their parents.
Question 2
Why are both Democrats and Republicans generally reluctant to decrease spending on Social Security?

A
Social Security payments are guaranteed by laws that cannot be changed.
B
Most Social Security benefits are paid to older people, and older people are more likely to vote.
C
The Social Security trust fund is so large that it is unlikely to run out of money in the next century.
D
Democrats and Republicans have worked out their differences by partially privatizing Social Security.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Congressmen need to win re-election, so cutting benefits to active voters is dangerous. Social Security payments are guaranteed by laws, but laws can be changed. Therefore, answer (A) is incorrect. It is a well-known fact that the Social Security trust fund is running out of money, so answer (C) is wrong. Social Security has not been privatized, so answer (D) is wrong.
Question 3
Questions 3–4 refer to the map below:

Based on the map, which of the following statements is true?

A
The West Coast states vote Republican.
B
The Deep South states vote Democratic.
C
The majority of the Great Lakes states vote for either party.
D
Most states along the Mexican border are politically neutral.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The West Coast states (A) are very blue, which means they vote Democratic. The Deep South states (B) are very red, which means they vote Republican. The Great Lakes (C) states are gray, so they are “swing” states, voting for Democrats in some elections and Republicans in others. Half the states along the Mexican border (D) are not neutral, as California votes Democratic, and Texas votes Republican.
Question 4

Which of the following does NOT contribute to the political leanings in the Deep South?

A
Deep South states have large populations of Evangelical Christians.
B
Deep South states support a strong national government.
C
Deep South have a history or racial problems.
D
Deep South are right-to-work states.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The Deep South supports states’ rights and a weaker federal government. All the other statements are truthful, and all are conservative statements.
Question 5
Questions 5–6 refer to the chart below:

Which of the following is a weakness in the data shown above?

A
The poll was not a random sample.
B
The poll only surveyed 1,024 adults.
C
The poll should not have “unsure” as an option.
D
The poll assumes that respondents have adequate knowledge of United States foreign policy.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Most Americans have very little knowledge of foreign policy, but 91 percent of respondents still expressed an opinion. There is no way of knowing if the poll did or did not use a random sample, so answer (A) may be eliminated. A poll of 1,024 adults is enough to have statistically reliable data, so answer (B) may also be eliminated. Polls should always have an unsure option, so answer (C) is also incorrect.
Question 6

Which of the following would be the best way to improve the quality of the data?

A
The poll should use a larger sample size.
B
The poll should only survey likely voters.
C
The poll should disaggregate the data based on male and female responses.
D
The poll should provide more than two options along with a Likert scale.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The sample size is adequate, so answer (A) may be eliminated. Surveying only likely voters (B) or disaggregating that data (C) would be interesting but would not produce better data. The poll itself is flawed because it only provides two substantive options. A Likert scale would measure the extent to which respondents agree or disagree with each of the proposed actions, which would improve the poll’s accuracy.
Question 7
Questions 7–8 refer to the table below. The data is from a poll conducted in 2016. Respondents were read the following statement: “In the next decade, a political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class.”

Assuming the data above were derived from a properly administered scientific poll, which of the following is true?

A
Most Americans did not vote in 2012.
B
Independents were neutral or unsure 22 percent of the time.
C
Seniors are the only group that disagreed with the statement.
D
The average American was more likely than a Tea Party supporter to support the statement.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Independents expressed an opinion 78 percent of the time, which means they were either neutral or unsure 22 percent of the time. There is no way of knowing how many Americans voted based on the data in the table, so answer (A) is incorrect. Slightly more seniors agree than disagreed with the statement, which eliminates answer (C). Tea Partiers agreed with the statement 55 percent of the time, compared to the 54 percent average, so answer (D) is also incorrect.
Question 8
Questions 7–8 refer to the table below. The data is from a poll conducted in 2016. Respondents were read the following statement: “In the next decade, a political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class.”

In what way does this data illustrate that respondents might be misinformed about redistribution of wealth?

A
Independents do not usually have an opinion on most issues.
B
People who do not vote do not usually participate in public opinion polls.
C
Tea Party supporters do not support tax increases that would be required to redistribute wealth.
D
Other public opinion polls show that seniors are overwhelmingly in favor of redistribution of wealth.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Tea Partiers want less government involvement in Americans lives; they want to reduce taxes. A political revolution to redistribute wealth would mean government would either confiscate property or greatly increase taxes, both of which the Tea Party is against. Therefore, the Tea Party respondents must be misinformed on this issue. Independents often have opinions on issues; they just do not identify with either major party. Therefore, answer (A) may be eliminated. Many nonvoters may participate in the public opinion polls, so answer (B) may also be eliminated. Answer (D) is plausible but does not directly address the question.
Question 9
Questions 9–10 refer to the graph below:

According to the graph, which of the following statements is true?

A
Democrats won the presidential elections of 1976, 1980, and 1992.
B
Republicans won the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 by less than one percent.
C
The percentage of registered voters has been consistently between 60 and 70 percent.
D
Most registered voters tended to identify as Democrats in the 1970s and as Republicans in the 1990s.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Adding the two percentages together in a given year yields a sum between 60 and 70 percent each year. The question is not about presidential elections, so answers (A) and (B) are irrelevant. “Most” means more than half; in no year did most voters identify with either political party. Therefore, answer (D) is incorrect.
Question 10

According to the graph, which of the following statements is false?

A
The percentage of Republicans increased in the 1980s and 1990s.
B
The percentage of Democrats decreased in the 1970s and fluctuated in the 1980s.
C
The percentage of Republicans and Democrats were nearly equal from 2006 until 2012.
D
The difference between Democrats and Republicans has never varied by more than 8 percent.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The difference between Democrats and Republicans was about 8.5 percent in 1974.
Question 11
Liberals typically favor broad rights of citizens in all of the following policy areas except

A
abortion.
B
gun ownership.
C
recreational drug use.
D
unionization of federal employees.
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Liberals usually want strict regulations on gun ownership, which is the opposite of answer (B). Liberals support all the other three options.
Question 12
Conservatives typically favor decreasing federal funding for all of the following except

A
the Environmental Protection Agency.
B
national defense.
C
public schools.
D
welfare.
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Conservatives typically favor a strong defense policy. Many conservatives believe that some environmental regulations are excessive, and harmful to the economy, so answer (A) is incorrect. They also believe that schools should be funded at the state and local levels, not at the federal level, so answer (C) is incorrect. They also want to reduce welfare benefits for able-bodied adults, which eliminates answer (D).
Question 13
Who among the following is most likely to be conservative?

A
A Jew living in a city
B
A Native American living in a city
C
A Catholic immigrant living in a rural area
D
An evangelical Protestant living in the suburbs
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Evangelical Christians/Protestants are overwhelmingly Republican, and people who live in suburbs tend to be Republican. Jews and Native Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, and people who live in cities tend to be Democrats as well. Therefore, answers (A) and (B) may be eliminated. Catholics are slightly more likely to be Democrats than Republicans; people in rural areas are often Republicans; immigrants are overwhelmingly Democrats. Therefore, answer (C) is unlikely to be correct.
Question 14
Who among the following is most likely to be liberal?

A
A white farmer
B
A Hispanic business owner
C
A man living in a suburb in the South
D
An African American woman living in a city in the North
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). African Americans are overwhelmingly liberal, and people who live in cities are more likely to be liberal as well. People who live in rural areas, especially whites, are likely to be conservative, so answer (A) is wrong. Hispanics are more likely to be liberal than conservative, but business owners are frequently conservative, so (B) could go either way. Southern men and people living in the suburbs are more likely to be conservative, so answer (C) is incorrect.
Question 15
Which of the following is considered furthest to the left on the political spectrum?

A
Democrats
B
Libertarians
C
Republicans
D
Socialists
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Democrats (also known as liberals or progressives) are on the left side of the political spectrum while Republicans (also known as conservatives) are on the right. Socialists are considered to be further to the left than Democrats.
Question 16
Someone who is conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues most closely aligns to which of the following political parties?

A
Democrats
B
Libertarians
C
Republicans
D
Socialists
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Libertarians oppose any government interference into their business decisions or their personal decisions, which makes them conservative on the economy and liberal on social issues. Democrats (A) are liberal on both economic and social issues. Republicans (B) are conservative on both economic and social issues. Socialists (D) are on the far left in regards to economic issues.
Question 17
Which of the following is an accurate comparison of conservative and liberal views concerning social policy?

A
A
B
B
C
C
D
D
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Most conservatives believe that minimum wages are harmful to the workers who have the least amount of skill, education, and work experience. They believe that a minimum wage discourages employers from hiring these unskilled workers, leaving them with no wage at all (and no way to gain work experience).

Most Liberals believe that everyone deserves to be paid a living wage, which is the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs. They also believe that businesses can afford to pay workers more, and that employment effects are negligible as long as the minimum wage is set at a reasonable level.
Question 18
Which of the following is an accurate comparison of conservative and liberal views concerning economic policy?

A
A
B
B
C
C
D
D
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C).
Question 19
Which of the following polls is considered most reliable on election day?

A
Benchmark polls
B
Entrance polls
C
Exit polls
D
Tracking polls
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Exit polls are most reliable because voters are asked who they voted for immediately after they leave the polling place. Entrance polls (B) are less reliable than exit polls because some people change their minds once they are inside the polling place. Benchmark polls (A) and tracking polls (D) are the same thing, so neither can be correct. That type of poll occurs frequently throughout an election season and shows who has the most support prior to election day.
Question 20
Which of the following controls American monetary policy?

A
Congress
B
The Department of the Treasury
C
The Federal Reserve Board
D
The Office of Management and Budget
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Federal Reserve Board controls monetary policy, which involves interest rates and the size of the money supply. Congress (A) sets fiscal policy through the federal budget. The Treasury Department (B) and the Office of Management and Budget (D) make fiscal policy recommendations to the President of the United States.
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