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Interest Groups and Public Opinion

Interest Groups and Public Opinion. Chapter 18. 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

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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

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