Interest groups and private organizations work to shape public policy

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Government leaders make policy based on public opinion.
o Measured by elections, interest groups, the media and
personal contacts.
• Public opinion polls: devices that collect information
through questioning.
• More accurate polls are based on scientific
techniques.
Interest groups and private organizations work to shape
public policy.
o Often present their views as public opinion, actually how
many they represent is unknown.
o Pubic officials can use the media and public contacts to
gain some sense of public opinion.
Scientific polling: Most accurate and complex
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o
Five steps
1. Choose the population the poll aims to measure.
2. Constructing a Sample: representative slice of the
population.
• Random sample: you have an equal chance to be
picked.
• Quota sample: one that deliberately picks a certain
of people of a given population with certain
characteristics.
3. Preparing Valid Questions
4. Interviewing
5. Analyze and Report Findings
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Plays a huge part in setting public agenda.
o (public issues that people think and talk about)
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The media plays central role in elections.
o Example: TV has reduced the importance of political parties,
candidates rely on party less because TV allows candidates to reach
public directly.
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Political Parties work hard to get good media.
o The Influence is limited some because few people follow political
issues carefully in the media.
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Those who do follow choose their favorite sources rather
than sources with contrary opinions to their own.
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Interest groups exist to shape public policy.
Public policy includes all of the goals a government sets
and the action it takes to meet them.
• Work at the federal, state, and local levels
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Interest groups reach out to the public for these reasons:
1.
2.
3.
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To supply information in support of the group’s interests
To build a positive image for the group
To promote a particular public policy
To achieve their goals, often use propaganda
o
o
o
Belief may be true or false.
It presents only one side of an issue.
Often relies on name-calling and inflammatory labels.
Political parties and interest groups differ in 3 ways:
Making of Nominations

1.
o
o
2.
Political parties are responsible for the nominating process
Interest groups hope to influence those nominations.
In their Primary Focus
o
o
3.
Political parties are interested in winning elections and controlling
government
Interest groups are interested in influencing the policies created by
government.
The Scope of Interest
o
o
Political parties concern themselves with the whole range of public affairs
Interest groups tend to focus on issues that their members are concerned
about.
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Raise awareness of public affairs, or issues that
concern the people at large.
Represent people who share attitudes
Provide useful information to government
Are vehicles for political participation.
Keep tabs on various public agencies and officials.
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Have more influence then
they deserve based on their
size or importance.
It can be difficult to tell who
or how many people the
group represents.
Groups do not always
represent the views of the
people they claim to speak
for.
In rare cases, groups use
tactics such as bribery,
threats, and so on.
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Most interest groups represent economic interest - especially
business, labor, agricultural, and professional interests.
A public-interest group: work for the “public good” - they try to
represent all the people, whether or not they belong to that
organization.
Purpose
Example
To promote business
American Bankers Association
To organize labor
Fraternal Order of Police
To protect agricultural interests
National Farmers Union
To promote professionalism
American Medical Association
To promote social programs
Veterans of Foreign Wars
For religious purposes
American Jewish Congress
For the public good
League of Women Voters
Chapter 9, Section 2
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Political Action Committees
(PACs) raise and distribute money
to candidates who will further
their goals.
Single –interest groups are PACs
that concentrate their efforts on
one issue.
o
They work for or against a
political candidate based only on
his or her stand on that one
issue.
Lobbyists: someone who is employed to
persuade legislators to vote for
legislation that favors the lobbyist's
employer
Lobbyists use several techniques:
 They send articles, reports, and other
information to officeholders.
 They testify before legislative
committees.
 They bring “grass-roots” pressures to
bear through email, letters, or phone
calls from constituents.
 They rate candidates and publicize the
ratings.
 They make campaign contributions.
 Example: “Thank You For Smoking”
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBE
LC_vxqhI
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Lobbying: bringing group
pressure to bear on all aspects
of the making of public policy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch
?v=xdh_m5lQUUY&feature=rela
ted
Lobbying carries beyond the
legislature.
It is brought into government
agencies, the executive branch,
and even the courts.
Nearly all important organized
interest groups maintain
lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2
DUM6jVasw&feature=related
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