Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Political Campaigns

By Ronald J. Hrebenar; Matthew J. Burbank et al. | Go to book overview

11
Parties, Interest Groups, and Campaigns The New Style of American Politics

Campaigns of a variety of types have come to dominate American politics as never before. Each year, thousands of interest groups and both major political parties are deeply involved in a never ending series of issue campaigns in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals across the nation. Every two years, and in off years as well, additional thousands of campaigns are waged in primaries and general elections in each of the fifty states. Increasingly, the major parties are being joined in these campaigns by a growing number of powerful, well-financed interest groups seeking to influence the outcomes of these candidate campaigns. Finally, in the West and Midwest, as well as in a few states in other regions, interest groups conduct powerful campaigns in initiative and referendum elections. Hundreds of millions of dollars are expended in these "popular democracy" campaigns. Such issue- ratification campaigns have sometimes eclipsed the office-filling campaigns being contested in the same elections.

In this book we have explored the overlapping worlds of political parties and interest groups in modern political campaigns. Indeed, both political parties and interest groups have always been part of our electoral campaigns and our legislatures, attempting to influence the outcomes of public policy debates. Throughout our history, Congress and state legislatures have passed outlines of laws and bureaucracies have filled in the "details." Which details are filled in is often the result of campaigns by parties and interest groups.

In the last decade or two there has been an increase in the frequency and the intensity of the overlap between party and interest group activities. Interest groups are more involved in candidate elections, with millions of

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