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Campaign Participants and Interest Group Activists: Not So Strange Bedfellows
Unformatted Document Text:  5 leadership skills, even among the politically reluctant, by lowering information costs and thereby increasing the potential for political activity among group members. A different strain of the party-group relationship literature has focused more heavily on the role of parties and interest groups as organizations (rather than the individuals who make them up), often emphasizing the one-way influence from groups to parties, in which groups are able to mobilize their members either to influence partisan nominations or, in some cases, to become incorporated into a major party’s organization over the long-run (Rozell, Wilcox, and Madland, 2006; Polsby, 1983; Schier, 2000). This potential for interest group involvement, and in some cases dominance, stems from the mass selection basis of political candidates in the U.S. Unlike other countries in which party elites – often parliamentarians -- control party leader selection, American parties select candidates through mass-based primaries and caucuses, with very low barriers to entry, where the turnover of the selectors (i.e., the primary or caucus electorate) is significant. As a result, interest groups can mobilize large numbers of previously inactive members, and shift the balance of power in nomination contests. In fact, the major source of change in the makeup of primary or caucus mass electorates from one election to the next often is through the mobilization of new participants rather than the conversion of continuing participants (Rapoport and Stone, 1994). “In 1994 nearly two-thirds of state party convention delegates [in Texas] were conservative Christians, more than half of whom had never attended a party meeting before” (Rozell, Wilcox and Madland, 2006: 69). Such success does not happen by chance. Groups run training sessions for their members to get them involved in party activity. On the other hand, there is little evidence of parties attempting to take over interest groups.

Authors: Rapoport, Ronald. and McCann, James.
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5
leadership skills, even among the politically reluctant, by lowering information costs and
thereby increasing the potential for political activity among group members.
A different strain of the party-group relationship literature has focused more
heavily on the role of parties and interest groups as organizations (rather than the
individuals who make them up), often emphasizing the one-way influence from groups to
parties, in which groups are able to mobilize their members either to influence partisan
nominations or, in some cases, to become incorporated into a major party’s organization
over the long-run (Rozell, Wilcox, and Madland, 2006; Polsby, 1983; Schier, 2000).
This potential for interest group involvement, and in some cases dominance, stems from
the mass selection basis of political candidates in the U.S. Unlike other countries in
which party elites – often parliamentarians -- control party leader selection, American
parties select candidates through mass-based primaries and caucuses, with very low
barriers to entry, where the turnover of the selectors (i.e., the primary or caucus
electorate) is significant. As a result, interest groups can mobilize large numbers of
previously inactive members, and shift the balance of power in nomination contests. In
fact, the major source of change in the makeup of primary or caucus mass electorates
from one election to the next often is through the mobilization of new participants rather
than the conversion of continuing participants (Rapoport and Stone, 1994). “In 1994
nearly two-thirds of state party convention delegates [in Texas] were conservative
Christians, more than half of whom had never attended a party meeting before” (Rozell,
Wilcox and Madland, 2006: 69). Such success does not happen by chance. Groups run
training sessions for their members to get them involved in party activity. On the other
hand, there is little evidence of parties attempting to take over interest groups.


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