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Interest Groups and Public Opinion

Interest Groups and Public Opinion

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Interest Groups and Public Opinion

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  1. Interest Groups and Public Opinion Chapter 18

  2. Interest Group Organization • Power of Interest Groups • Defining Interest Groups • influence government officials to support certain policies • do not run candidates for office, but may endorse • concerned with only a few issues/problems • organized based on common values • Purpose of Interest Groups • bridge the gap between the citizen and govt • Political Power • “strength in numbers”

  3. Interest Group Organization • Leadership and Membership • leaders: keep members unified and informed, speakers for the group, plan strategy, raise money • why people join? • promote economic interests, individual’s beliefs, social • Business and Labor Groups • tries to influence government economic policy including how the government spends money • business-related interest groups • purpose: to create the most favorable climate for their businesses to prosper

  4. Interest Group Organization • labor-related interest groups • purpose: calls public attention to the needs of working people • craft unions: made up of workers with a similar skill • industrial unions: composed of skilled and unskilled workers in the same industry • Agricultural Groups • purpose: seeks support for the faming families and industry in the United States • examples: The National Farmers Union, The American Farm Bureau Federation, the Grange

  5. Interest Group Organization • Other Interest Groups • Professional Groups • purpose: seeks to protect and advance their field • examples: American Dental Association and American Bar Association • Environmental Interest Groups • purpose: conserving resources, protecting wildlife, impact of environmental regulation • examples: Sierra Club, NWF • Public Interest Groups • purpose: work for the interest of all Americans • examples: Common Cause

  6. Interest Group Organization • Interest Groups in Government • National Conference of State Legislators • National Governors’ Association • Additional Groups • purpose of Social Action Groups: try to bring about changes in society • members usually hold strong personal feelings about the issue focused on by the group • Civil Rights Groups-attempt to establish, defend, and extend the rights of Americans • Veterans’ Rights-represent the interests of men and women who are veterans of war

  7. Interest Group Organization • Additional Groups • Religious Groups-express definite views on certain public policy issues that affect their religion • Public-Interest Groups-work for a goal that will benefit the common good • Single-Interest Group: focus all of attention on one issue • members are extremely dedicated to the cause of the group • problem with single-interest groups: can cause voters to vote against or for a candidate based on a single issue

  8. Section 2 Affecting Public Policy • The Work of Lobbyists • Who Are Lobbyists? • anyone employed by a client, made more than one contact on behalf of the client, and spent more than 20% of time serving the client • must register, file semiannual reports, disclose issues addressed, agencies contacted, and money paid • Providing Useful Information • support interest group’s position • statistics, pamphlets, testifying before committees

  9. Section 2 Affecting Public Policy • The Work of Lobbyists • Drafting Bills • Interest Groups Seek Support • Media Campaigns • inform public and create support • Letter Writing • letters to govt to demonstrate support for or against issue • Limitations • provide representation for the public, watchdogs, protest govt • no single group controls govt, large groups, diverse goals, finances

  10. Section 2 Affecting Public Policy • The Rise of Political Action Committees • How PACs Began • campaign finance reform, limit on individual contributions, corporate and labor union restrictions • Laws Governing PACs • register with govt, raise money from at least 50 contributors, give to at least 5 candidates, strict accounting rules, limit of $5,000 directly to candidate • Federal Election Commission • issues regulations that control PACs • Supreme Court Decisions • Buckley v. Valeo-different divisions of a corporation may set up as many PACs as they wish

  11. Section 2 Affecting Public Policy • PACs and the Groups They Serve • Affiliated PACs • tied to corporations, labor unions, trade groups or health organizations • raise funds through voluntary contributions • Nonconnected PACs • independent, participate in elections • raise money through direct-mail appeals

  12. Section 2 Affecting Public Policy • Strategies for Influence • Trading Support for Access • promise support, contributions assure access to officials • Influencing Elections • support incumbents (usually win Congressional elections)

  13. Section 3 Shaping Public Opinion • The Nature of Public Opinion • Diversity • Communication • Significant Numbers • Political Socialization • Family • influence opinion, join same political parties • Schools • learn history and political system; democratic values • Peer Groups • influence and shape opinions

  14. Section 3 Shaping Public Opinion • Political Socialization • Social Characteristics • economic and social status • Mass Media • provide information and images that influence political attitudes • the way the media depicts different groups of people • Government • president and Congress influence opinions • Political Efficacy • an individual’s feelings of effectiveness in politics • high levels of efficacy are essential in a democracy

  15. Section 3 Shaping Public Opinion • Political Culture • A Context for Opinion • sets boundaries within which citizens develop and express opinions • Screening Information • influence how citizens interpret what they see and hear • Ideology and Public Policy • ideology: set of basic beliefs about life, culture, govt, and society

  16. Section 3 Shaping Public Opinion • Ideology and Public Policy • Liberal • believe the govt should actively promote health, education, and justice; increase equality; govt should not restrict personal freedoms • Conservative • Limit govt’s role in the economy and in solving social problems; protect moral life-style • Moderates and Libertarians • moderates fall between liberals and conservatives • libertarians support both economic and social freedoms (free markets and unrestricted speech)

  17. Section 4 Measuring Public Opinion • Traditional Methods • Political Party Organizations • Interest Groups • make every attempt to get their opinion of their issue known • may only represent a small group of people, not a safe indicator • Mass Media • officials get info of public opinion through news, magazines, radio talk shows, letters to the editor • not accurate, sensationalism, a few people represented in the news may not reflect the whole

  18. Section 4 Measuring Public Opinion • Letter Writing • Electronic Access • Straw Polls • group of people questioned informally to determine public opinion • telephone calls, surveys, interviews of people • unreliable, do not represent the whole, do not represent a cross-section of the population

  19. Section 4 Measuring Public Opinion • Scientific Polling • Sample Populations • must determine the universe: population to be studied • only need to take a poll of a small group who accurately represent the universe • a small group can represent a universe according to the laws of probability (the likelihood that something will happen) • key to scientific polling is that the sample is made at random • non-random surveys are biased and inaccurate

  20. Section 4 Measuring Public Opinion • Sampling Error • scientific polls have a sampling error (the range of accuracy) • can decrease sampling error by increasing sample size • Sampling Procedures • quota sample: chosen based on characteristics found in a population, race, income, gender, religion-means the sample will not be random • cluster sample: groups people by geographical area, selections within the geographic area can then be made at random

  21. Section 4 Measuring Public Opinion • Poll Questions, Mail and Phone Polls • questions must be clear, fair, and unbiased • usually personal or telephone • success depends on interviewer, they make people feel relaxed and confident, not embarrassed of their answers • surveys by mail should not be too long, and have clear directions and questions • Interpreting Results • include in results the polling method, type of sample, sampling error, date of survey