Gitelson Interest Groups (Pressure Groups)

Study Guide .3






Interest groups (also called pressure groups) are organizations that seek to influence government decision-makers to adopt policies to benefit their members.  People with similar ideals join an interest group to pressure government to meet their demands.  Interest groups can make or break an election for a candidate, party, or proposition; therefore, political parties seek their support.  




Increased specialization (in society) usually means the government tries to control the relations among groups.  With the changes in campaign finance laws and other reforms that weakened party structure, major parties try to appeal to different interest groups in their election bid.  Interest groups may seek to influence decisions by the three branches of government, which are the legislative, executive and judicial.  Groups can influence court decisions or lobby the senate.  The federal and state levels reflect the policy performance of the strongest and best-organized interest groups.  There are over 80,000 local government bodies, including school districts, and special districts, as well as cities and counties. 




Lobbying is an attempt to influence legislation on behalf of an interest group.  Their techniques are:  Contacting - with public officials through meetings, telephone calls,  mail, fax and e-mail, Contributing to officials’ campaigns by funds, loans and volunteering, Gaining Office – run for public office to have direct influence over legislation beneficial to their interest, Publicizing – during Senate and House floor action on a bill, lobbyists gather outside the chambers to keep a close watch on events and bring pressure if needed, Promoting social movements by joining with other interest groups with different concerns they can lobby different legislators.




If lobbyists are unable to influence legislators by analysis and argument, they usually use some form of direct action.  A march, rally, protest, or a demonstration may serve as a powerful weapon in the fight for what they are trying to attain.  More serious action is picketing, boycotting and strikes.  They are used to force negotiations or to gain sympathy from media or other interest groups.  Civil disobedience is the last form of resistance in the fight for their beliefs.  The first is direct disobedience in which the group violates the illegal or unjust law.  The last line of defense is indirect disobedience that violates a law to call attention to something that is not right. 












The government takes and evaluates public opinion polls to be responsive to citizens.  Most polling is done by telephone.  Another method is a random sample of opinion by questionnaires sent to voters to find out what they think. When polling is done on a frequent basis to detect changing opinions (tracking).   Schematic thinking is a viewing the world based on our culture perception.  Bias may result from the way news is presented.  Members of the media often manipulate public opinion with prominence cues such as story placement or headline size.  Pollsters must pay attention to the wording of questions so that bias does not occur and that questions do not lead to an expected answer.  Margin of error is a statement of how accurate a number or measurement is.




Propaganda is an effort to manufacture a “public opinion” favorable to a single interest.  It presents one viewpoint only, often with half-truths and arguments.  Bandwagon:  Propaganda uses the theme “everyone is doing it” thus playing on the desire of the individual to conform.  Positive or Negative Words:  The propagandist identifies his plans with respectability by appealing to the common emotion of love, generosity, and brotherhood.  Plain Folks:  Propagandist uses this device to win confidence and illustrate they're being publicized or promoted are “just like everyone else.”  Testimonial:  Propagandist “quotes” a widely-known person as saying that he/she uses a specific product in the hope that the audience will follow the advice of the individual.  Card Stacking:  Seek to confuse those searching for facts, evade issues resorting to falsehood and censorship and raising new issues.




G1. Agriculture:  To encourage survival of viable rural communities for farmers and promote farm growth.  American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) promote quality of life and profitable farms and ranches , National Grange attract owners of medium-sized to large enterprises who usually prefer support of Republicans.  National Farmers Alliance (NFA), National Farmers Organizations (NFO), National Farmers Union (NFU) grow crops.   These are for the small farmers and are Democratic.


G7. Business:   American Bankers Association (ABA) lawyers bankers, Business Roundtable, National Association  of Manufacturers (NAM) members are factory owners, US Chamber of Commerce provide help for small business owners  these interest groups are  Republican.



G11. Education:  To improve the conditions of teaching and learning by enhancing the quality of education. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) trade union represents workers in education , health service and public service, California Federation of Teachers (CFT), United Teachers -Los Angeles (UTLA) they belong to AFL-CIO.  California Teachers Association (CTA), National Education Association (NEA) to help all students achieve across the U.S.  These groups are Democratic.


G16. Environment:  To protect the environment that makes up our land. Greenpeace International, the Sierra Club. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) promotes clean air, clean water, nourishing food. These groups tend to be Democratic.






G 19. Labor Unions:  These groups were formed to improve economic status and working conditions.  American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) rights of workers, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) make sure every member gets a fair deal from the boss and politians, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW),and the United Farm Workers (UFW) was founded by Cesar E. Chavez.  These groups are all Democratic.


G24. Professions:  These concerns are with the advancement of knowledge and improvement of practices in their respective profession. American Bar Association (ABA) appear in court, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Accountants also calculate taxes, American Medical Association (AMA) Physicans prescribe medicine.  These groups are Republican.  American Nurses Association (ANA) assist Doctors are Democratic due to low wages.


G30. Race, Ethnicity, National Origin and Religion:  These groups were formed to protect against discrimination of race. Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Indian Movement (AIM), Christian Coalition founded by Pat Robertson gives Christians a voice in government, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League, Operation PUSH, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson , Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founder Martin Luther King protect religion freedom.  These groups are Democratic.


G. 36 Single Issue:  These groups cover a wide variety of concerns such as drunk driving, pro-choice vs. pro-life, gun issues and animal rights activists.  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) free speech, individual rights, and National Rifle Association (NRA) these groups are  Republican.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)  founded by Candy Lightner alcohol concerns , Operation Rescue issues about abortion, Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS) founded by Ralph Nader, Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD).


Women:  These groups were formed to protect women’s rights in the home, workplace and political concerns.  Emily’s List founded by Ellen Malcolm help mobolize democratic women voters across the country, National Organization for Women (NOW) favor rights for women, Women's Coalition – Democratic





Scroll below for fill-in items A1 through G 46 followed by abbreviations




 A1    What is another name for interest groups?


A2     What do interest groups seek to influence?


A3     Why do political parties seek them out?


A4     Why do certain people feel it necessary to join a particular interest group?


A5     What has drawn interest groups into politics?


A6     What effect can interest groups have?




B1     Who can influence court decisions?


B2     When the government tries to control the relations among groups is called?


B3     What had weakened party structure?


B4     Because the major parties have weakened, what do they do to ensure their election bid?




B5     What are the three branches of government?


B6     What can interest groups influence?


B7     What policy performance of interest groups do the federal and state levels reflect?


B8     What makes up the 80,000 local governing bodies?




C1     An attempt to influence legislation on behalf of an interest group is called what?


C2     How can interest groups contact public officials?


C3     What are ways of contributing to officials’ campaigns?


C4     How can an interest group have direct influence over legislation?


C5     When lobbyists gather outside chambers watch on events, bring pressure when needed is called?


C6     How interest groups promote social movements?




D1     What happens when lobbyists are unable to influence legislators?


D2     Name four powerful weapons of direct action.


D3     Name the three serious forms of direct action?


D4     What are they used for?



D5     What is the last form of resistance?


D6     Name the two types of disobedience?


D7     What type of disobedience violates a law?




E1     Why are public opinion polls taken?


E2     What is most polling done by?


E3     Questionnaires sent to voters to find out what they think is called?


E4     When polling is done frequent to detect changing opinions the term used is?


E5     Viewing the world based on culture perception is called?


E6     What might result by the way in which news is presented?


E7     Give examples of prominence cues?


E8     Why should a pollster pay attention to the wording of questions?


E9     What is a margin of error?





F1     An effort to manufacture a "public opinion" favorable to a single interest is?


F2     How many viewpoints does it represent?


F3     Name the five types of propaganda techniques?


F4     What propaganda technique has the theme “everyone is doing it”?


F5     What propaganda technique is used to win confidence?


F6     What propaganda technique is used to appeal to the common emotion of love?         


F7     What technique is used when someone uses a certain product?


 F8    What technique is used to confuse those searching for facts?




G1    What group promotes quality of life and profitable farms and ranches?


G2    What two groups represent the medium to large farms?


G3    What groups would vote Democratic?


G4    What is NFU?


G5    What groups represent small farmers?


G6    The National Grange and the AFBF favor what party?


G7    What group provides help for small business owners?


G8    What is ABA?



G9    What party do they favor?



G10  What is NAM?



G11  What groups belong to Education?


G12  What party do they favor?



G13  What is AFT?



G14  What is NEA?



G15  What is CFT?



G16  What group promotes clean air, clean water?


G17  What is EDF?



G18  What party do they favor?



G19  Who founded UFW?



G20  What is AFL-CIO?



G21  What is UFW?



G22  What party do they favor?



G23  What is IBEW?



G24  What groups belong to Professions?


G25  What is AMA?



G26  What groups favor Republican?


G27  What is AICPA?



G28  What is ANA?



G29  What group favors Democratic?


G30  What is ADL?



G31  Who was the founder of SCLC?


G32  What is AIM?



G33  Who was the founder of Christian Coalition?


G34  What is NAACP?



G35  Who was the founder of Operation Push, Rainbow/Push Coalition?


G36  Who was the founder of MADD?


G37  What is ACLU?



G38  What is NRA?



G39  What two groups favor Republican?


G40  What is MADD?



G41  Who was the founder of PIRGS?


G42  What is SADD?



G43  Who was the founder of Emily's List?


G44  What is NOW?



G45  What party do they favor?



G46  Why were these groups formed?
















Sierra Club