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Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties. Defining Interest Groups and Political Parties What is an Interest Group? an organized group of individuals.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties. Defining Interest Groups and Political Parties What is an Interest Group? an organized group of individuals."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties

2 Defining Interest Groups and Political Parties What is an Interest Group? an organized group of individuals who share common goals or objectives who attempt to influence policymakers in all three branches of government, and at all levels What is a political party? a group of activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government and to determine public policy

3 Types of Interest Groups Economic Interest Groups – groups formed to promote economic interests Business Interest Groups – business and trade organizations that attempt to influence government policy to their benefit Agricultural Interest Groups- advocate for farm interests enjoy disproportionate influence Labor Interest Groups – groups that represent the working class interests Public Employee Unions – interest groups that represent employees of governments, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and teachers Interest Groups of Professionals – interest groups that advocate for professional associations, like the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association

4 Types of Interest Groups (cont.) Environmental Interests – groups that advocate for pro-environmental policies, including the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy Public Interest Groups – groups that advocate the interests of the collective, overall community Single Interest Groups – narrowly focused interest groups Foreign Governments

5 Interest Group Strategies Direct Techniques –Lobbying - meeting officials and attempting to convince of your position on an issue; Lobbying also entails – Ratings – scoring legislators based on their votes in congress, then making interested constituents aware of those scores – Campaign Assistance – providing workers for political campaigns

6 Interest Group Strategies (cont.) Indirect Techniques – Generating Public Pressure – trying to influence the government by using public opinion on an issue – Using Constituents as Lobbyists shotgun approach means having large numbers of constituents act in concert by writing, emailing, phoning or sending postcards to a legislator rifle approach involves having an influential constituent contact a legislator on a particular issue

7 PAC Growth, 1977 to Present SOURCE: Federal Election Commision, 2001.

8 PAC Contributions to Congressional Candidates, 1986 to 2000 Millions of Dollars SOURCE: Federal Election Commision, 2002.

9 Attempts at Regulating Lobbyists Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 provided for public disclosure failed because it did not have an enforcement mechanism Some regulations on lobbying passed in 1995-96 include defining “lobbyist” as anyone who spends 20 percent of his/her time lobbying members of congress, congressional staffs, or executive branch officials requiring lobbyists to register with the Secretary of the House or clerk of the Senate requiring semiannual reports on the nature of lobbying activities

10 Functions of Political Parties in the United States Recruiting candidates for public office Organizing and running elections Presenting alternative policies to the electorate Accepting responsibility for operating the government Acting as the organized opposition to the party in power


12 The Theoretical Structure of the American Political Party County Committees Precinct and Ward Organizations (including active, paid, and unpaid workers) Party Members (those who vote the party ticket) State Conventions and Committees National Convention (including a national chairperson and a national committee) National Party Organization State Party Organization Local Party Organization

13 Why Has the Two Party System Endured? historical foundations of the system (the dichotomous nature of early American conflict) self-perpetuation of parties the winner-take all electoral system The state and federal laws favoring the two party system

14 Minor Parties in the U.S. Current Minor Parties –Usually enduring parties have a strong ideological foundation at odds with the majority mindset –Examples include the Libertarian Party, the Green Party Splinter Parties- most successful minor parties have been splinter parties, parties that broke from a major party often, minor parties’ platforms are adopted by major parties sometimes minor party candidates can have an impact on the outcome of an election

15 Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources: Book’s Companion Site: f2004 f2004 Wadsworth’s Political Science Site: The Internet Public Library: Democratic National Committee: Republican National Committee:

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