Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Political Campaigns

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

8
Political Campaigns and lnterest Groups From Electoral Campaigns to Advocacy Campaigns

The distance between political campaigns run largely by and for political parties and political campaigns run largely by and for interest groups was bridged in the early 1990s. The political campaign that symbolized the merging of the two types of campaigns was President Clinton's unsuccessful health care reform efforts in 1993-1994. Obviously, many important elements of modern campaigns had been used in both types of campaigns in many previous years, but the nearly complete merging of the types of campaigns was indicative of a new style of interest group politics based on the election campaign model described in the two previous chapters. That new style of interest group campaign can be called the "total war" model. It has raised the stakes of interest group conflict significantly, as well as the costs.

Interest groups are frequent participants in the election game as well, playing two distinct roles. First, groups have come to dominate direct policymaking processes in many states as over the decades they have discovered the advantages of initiative and referendum in the advancement of their policy objectives. These I&R elections have become more frequent in many states, especially in the West. Each year hundreds of campaigns are contested among thousands of interest groups to influence an ever growing range of public policies. Second, as the 1994, 1996, and 1998 elections demonstrated, groups have become increasingly powerful political actors in election campaigns in support of political parties and their candidates. Groups such as the AFL-CIO have reasserted their once powerful contribution to the Democratic party, and the Christian Coalition has emerged as the Right's (and the

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