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Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views, or as a single opinion held by an individual about a social or political topic. The meaning of public opinion has changed dramatically over time. Political scientist Susan Herbst writes that "Formalized tabulation of political opinions began in the city-states of ancient Greece, where elections were viewed as central components of the democratic process. Yet it was not until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that quantification became a significant element of political discourse in the West." (via Freebase)