Government and Politics

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According to a poll by ABC News, men supported President Ronald Reagan’s successful bid for reelection by a margin of 63 to 36 percent. By contrast, 56 percent of women voted for Reagan while 44 percent supported the Democratic ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. In the 1986 elections, the ender gap narrowed somewhat, yet apparently contributed to the victories of Democratic senatorial candidates in at least nine states, four of them in the south.

For example, in Colorado, men supported Republican Ken Kramer over Democrat Timothy Wirth by a 49 to 48 percent margin, yet Wirth was elected because women preferred him by a 53 to 44 percent margin. By contributing to these Democratic victories, women voters were an important factor in the party’s 1986 takeover of e Senate. Interest Groups This discussion of political behavior has focused primarily on individual participation (and non-participation) in the decision-making processes of government and on involvement in the nation’s political parties.

However, there are other important ways that American citizens can play a role in the nation’s political arena. Because of common needs or common frustrations, people may band together in social movements such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s or the anti-nuclear power movement of the 1980s. Americans can also influence the political process through membership in interest groups (some of which, in fact, may be part of larger social movements).

An interest group is a voluntary association of citizens who attempt to influence public policy. The National Organization for Women (NOW) is considered an interest group, so, too, are the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Such groups are a vital part of the American political process Many interest groups (often known as lobbies) are national in scope and address a wide variety of political and social issues As we saw earlier, groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Common Cause, the .

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