Thursday, June 14, 2012

Power of Interest Groups

Little evidence exists to suggest that interest groups had a hand in the election of Obama though there had been significant involvement of interest groups in the hotly-contested presidential election of George W. Bush. Mitchell and Munger (1991) contend that interest groups may succeed in challenging government policies but fail to manage their own economies. Because interest groups are driven by need, they have the tendency to seek total maximization of the possessions they seek to acquire. According to Hudson (2009) people engaged in such activities are usually more affluent than the rest of society. Interest groups compete for representation in governments which at times lead to increase in the size of governments especially in Western democracies (Coughlin, 1990).

Burstein and Linton (2002) claim that no modern democratic nation is without political interest groups, political parties, and social movement organizations. While political parties impact policy implementations, social movement organizations affect policy only to the extent of presenting necessary information to the elected officials they presume to have their interests at heart. Interest groups played a great role in the elections that brought George W. Bush to power and not in the election of Obama. Celebrity endorsement of Obama in 2008 became a common phenomenon with celebrity like Oprah Winfrey going public with her pronouncements. Oprah’s endorsement of Obama created significant shift in voting strategies with many undecided voters switching party inclination and voting patterns (Gartwaite & Moore).

The use of technology started with Franklin Roosevelt who reputedly became the first U.S. president to frequently use the radio during election campaigns, during the depression, and at the time of the devastating World War II (Norquay, 2008). Roosevelt was followed by President Kennedy who became famous for partaking in the first televised debate of 1960. Others famous for using technological applications in their campaigns were George McGovern known for using the telephone, Bill Clinton who became famous with cable television and George W. Bush who applied micro-targeting techniques to gather information about voter level of income and voter location.  Obama’s campaign became famous for its use of social media to capture the hearts and minds of millions of Americans of voting age. By creating and devising , his campaign became a force to reckon with. Started with the help of twenty-year old computer whizzes, it transformed into a venture that had never been seen before in modern elections (Norquay, 2008). By formulating the novel idea of internet use, the Obama campaign erased organizational demands and every kind of uncertainty.


Burstein, P. & Linton, A. (2002).The impact of political Parties, interest Groups,
            and social movement organizations on public policy: Some recent evidence and theoretical concerns. Social Forces, 81(2):380-408

Coughlin, P.J. (1990). Electoral politics, interest groups, and the size of government. Economic Inquiry, Vol. XXVIII, 682-705

Garthwaite, C. & Moore, T. (2008). The Role of Celebrity Endorsements in Politics:
            Oprah, Obama, and the 2008 Democratic Primary. Washington, DC: University of Columbia, Department of Economics. Retrieved from

Hudson, W.E. (2009). American democracy in peril: Eight challenges to America’s future. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Mitchell, M.C. & Munger, M.C. (1991). Economic models of interest groups: An introduction survey. American Journal of Political Science, Volume 35, Issue 2, 512-546

Norquay, G. (2008). Organizing without an organization: The Obama network revolution. Policy Options (2008). Retrieved from

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