About this SiteWhy should any of us be interested in advocacy groups? Simply because political advocacy groups -- also known as pressure groups, interest groups or lobbyists -- play a significant role in the political system of the United States.
Such groups can shape elections by verbally endorsing candidates or contributing financially to campaigns with Political Action Committee (PAC) money. Once candidates are elected to office, members of these organizations commonly contact them to encourage support or opposition to legislation. Furthermore, a handful of prominent groups regularly rate the performance of politicians. Understanding the actions and endorsements by advocacy groups helps you to understand the performance and political ideology of your own representative.
Not only do these political advocacy groups play a role with the actions of politicians, they are also highly visible in the news media. Members of think tanks write editorials published by regional newspapers. Reporters contact representatives from interest groups to solicit quotes about news topics. To research the ideology of an editorialist or understand why a group was consulted, refer to their homepage through the alphabetic list found here. To find a source for a story or a perspective on an issue, browse the subject arrangement to choose an appropriate group.
Whether you want to understand the actions of an organization or a politician, find a journalistic source, lend your support to a cause, or find an internship or job, this project will provide a starting point to acquaint you with the variety of advocacy groups in the United States.
ScopeAll national "cause lobbyist" organizations will be considered for this list. As defined by Alan Rosenthal in his 1993 book The Third House: Lobbyists and Lobbying in the States a "cause lobbyist" advocates for or against a particular cause like environmentalism or feminism instead of on behalf of a corporation. Limiting this list will enable it to be updated more often and provide information to interest the general public as a whole.
Advocacy groups lobby elected officials in a number of ways. On this list are organizations that personally contact, pressure, and/or "educate" representatives; conduct and disseminate policy-oriented research; organize grassroots citizen activism; or provide financial resources to Congressional candidates. All of these activities can affect the attitudes and actions of Representatives and Senators, which can ultimately alter public policy.
In January 2001, roughly 30 listings were withdrawn because of a lack of compliance with this site's scope. The Public Interest Law category did not, however, receive a review for scope, but no new organizations will be added to this page in the future.
The list continues to grow and suggestions for additional groups are welcome. New advocacy groups, as recommended and accepted, will be added as quickly as possible. The ongoing research and updates, however, occur on an as-time-allows basis, but we intend to review the existing list every year to verify links, contact information, and descriptions.
The political advocacy sites presented here provide a wide spectrum of political opinions. Their inclusion in this list does not constitute endorsement by either the authors or Washington State University Vancouver. As with any Internet site, exercise your judgment when viewing and evaluating the information provided by these groups.
For Further Study (a partial list)Barone, M. (2012). Almanac of American Politics 2012. Washington, DC: National Journal. http://www.nationaljournal.com/almanac/
Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org
Cigler, A. J., and B. A. Loomis. (Eds.). (2012). Interest Group Politics. 8th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
CQ's Politics in America 2012: the 112th Congress. (2012) Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
Dwyre, D. & Farrar-Myers, V. A. (2001). Legislative Labyrinth : Congress and Campaign Finance Reform. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Maisel, S., J. M. Berry, and G. C. Edwards III. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups. New York: Oxford University Press.
Plano, J. C., and M. Greenberg. (2001). American Political Dictionary. 11th ed. Fort Worth, TX : Harcourt College Publishers.
Project Vote Smart. http://www.vote-smart.org