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not limited to the campaigns and the media. Organized interests and
individuals endeavor to shape the dialogue at every stage of the
Some groups mount campaigns comparable to those of the candidates
in order to see that their points of view are represented.
For example, leading up to the 1996 contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, AARP/VOTE, the nonprofit, nonpartisan voter education program of the American Association of Retired Persons, had offices in Iowa and New Hampshire. Later in the campaign AARP was a co-sponsor of the Vice Presidential debate in St. Petersburg; after the debate one of its officials was actually in the spin area spinning the media alongside the campaign operatives.
To take another example from late 1995/early 1996, the liberal group People for the American Way mounted an "Expose the Right" campaign, with storefront offices in Iowa and New Hampshire. From these bases the group's supporters distributed literature and took their bright orange signs out to demonstrate when Republican candidates came stumping. During the Republican National Convention in San Diego, PFAW put out a daily newsletter; at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, PFAW had a hospitality suite.
There are myriad ways in which a group can influence the campaign. In 1996 the Christian Coalition put out voter guides in Iowa and New Hampshire contrasting the positions of the Republican hopefuls, it sent a sizable number of delegates to the Republican National Convention, its annual Road to Victory conferences in 1995 and 1996 provided a venue to address social conservative activists, and, in the closing weeks of the fall campaign, it distributed millions of voter guides.
Likewise, organized labor wields a strong influence in the Democratic party. Union members provide the manpower for everything from turning out large crowds at rallies to working phone banks. In 1996 the AFL-CIO put together a multi-faceted campaign that sought to move issues of concern to working families to the fore. At the Republican Convention in San Diego, labor had street blimps driving around the city, a small plane with a banner flying overhead, signs and people in the protest area, and more. In Chicago, labor had a very strong presence.
and incorporated membership organizations--a category which includes
ranging from the National Rifle Association to the Sierra Club--are
by federal election campaign laws from making contributions or
in conjunction with federal elections. They can engage in a broad array
of nonpartisan political education activities such as distributing
guides, holding forums, etc. Further, these organizations can establish
separate segregated funds or political action committees which are
to make partisan communications to their members. The tax-exempt status
of non-profit groups is predicated on their not engaging in partisan
but a group's affiliated PAC can make endorsements, which of course
a message to the broader public.
for the Study of Elections and Democracy's Report on Issue Advocacy in
the 2000 Presidential Primaries (7/00)
Center for Public Integrity--Stealth PACs Revealed: Interest Groups in the 2000 Election Overview (2/01)
|Abortion -- Economy, Spending and Taxes -- Education -- Environment -- Faith and Religion -- Foreign Relations -- Generations (Youth, Seniors) -- Gun Control/2nd Amendment -- Health Care -- Immigration -- Partisan and Ideological -- Not Yet Classified|
Note: DEMOCRACY IN ACTION welcomes your suggestions for P2000-specific
interest group links. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
National Right to Life Committee's Election 2000
NARAL Election: Choice 2000
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Republican National Coalition for Life
Republican Pro-Choice Coalition
Spending and Taxes
and Ideological Groups
Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.