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Book Reviews 673 quantify in questionnaires. In questionnaires, lobbyists overstate their influence while people in government understate it. Certainly more broad surveys are needed, but they take a long time and are expensive. There are surely few of them for that reason. In the meantime, case studies are just as valuable for interest group research. Creating a broad-based research agenda will be difficult in the future because students of interest groups have been aware of its need for a long time. It is necessary on occasion for attention to be focused on the consequences of not having such a unifying theory. In the end, the authors have surely done a service to interest group studies. The questions about the nature of legislator/lobbyist communications have produced unclear answers. Until some of the prescriptions the authors describe can be filled, the study of interest groups will continue to languish. Eric E. Grier Georgia State University Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering. By Mark J. Rozell and Clyde Wilcox. Washington, D.C: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1999; pp. iii + 186. $19.95. As Mark Rozell and Clyde Wilcox see it, interest groups, controversial as they may be, not only have become a major factor in American electoral campaigns, they have become increasingly necessary because they perform many of the functions that were once the province of political parties. Whether it is grassroots mobilization for voters and cash, recruiting and training candidates, developing and distributing distinctive messages, targeting specific blocs of citizens or conducting issue surveys, all too frequently it is interest groups and not political parties leading the charge. Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering provides a fresh perspective on a distinctly American phenomenon that is as old as the country itself. Beginning with a history of interest groups and extending through the heavy involvement of interest groups in the 1996 elections, the authors have, as their unifying theme, the communication of interest groups with political parties, candidates , media, and voters. The book is organized into five chapters in which an array of tactics and strategies used by interest groups is analyzed. Of particular note are the discussions of the types of interest groups, the differences in the goals and functions of interest groups, and the advantages and disadvantages of the role these groups play in elections and campaigns. For the most part, Rozell and Wilcox are careful to provide examples of particular interest groups and elections to enrich their discussions. As an illustration, the detailed analysis and examples of PACs and the way in which they promote incumbency and directly seek to influence public policy is especially useful. The only disappointment in this regard is that there are relatively few examples of the most recent type of interest group, the issue advocacy group. The authors do point out 674 Rhetoric & Public Affairs that issue advocacy became the major strategy for interest groups in the 1996 and 1998 elections, but then they tend to do very little with them. Given that it is these single issue advocate groups that have the potential for completely transforming American political campaigns, it would be helpful to have more thorough consideration , particularly as they affected the 1996 and 1998 elections. One of the most useful sections of the book for students of political campaign communication, lobbyists, and concerned citizens alike, is the authors' evaluation of the ways in which interest groups are involved in elections. As the authors argue, at one level, interest groups can be viewed as an asset to democracy in that they give a voice to individual Americans by articulating their concerns and bringing them into the electoral system, raising money to finance campaigns, recruiting candidates and running candidate training programs. One the other hand, interest group participation can frequently be damaging to the electoral process when they endorse and finance the campaign of an incumbent, influence the content of legislation, create misleading and oversimplified messages, distort candidates' records and positions on issues, and finance negative advertising. On balance, Rozell and Wilcox believe that the positives outweigh the negatives and although reform is needed, interest groups remain important to our democratic system. Some of us...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5238
Print ISSN
1094-8392
Pages
pp. 673-674
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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