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An interest group is essentially a group that advocates for some sort of common interest and promotes it in a way that seeks to influence government and policy in favor of the group's interests.
Being aware of the agendas of interest groups as well as their ratings on politicians as well as candidates is important to understanding the powers that can influence elected officials' stances and votes.
See how elected officials vote (particularly members of Congress) at the following links. This can help you tie together interest groups, votes, and see the influence of public opinion in American foreign policy.
"We pursue our mission largely through our award-winning website, OpenSecrets.org, which is the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere." (About Us, OpenSecrets.org)
Project Vote Smart
Provides biographical and voting information on elected government officials as well as information on interest groups. Also includes political stances, public statements, and campaign finances.
Public Opinion Polls
American National Election Studies
Since 1948, the ANES has provided times series data from their national surveys about voter behaviors and attitudes and are collected before and after presidential and midterm elections
Gallup measures and analyzes people's opinions on a variety of topics. Select "Topics" to navigate to relevant public opinion data.
The Harris Vault
Serves as an archive for the Harris Poll that provides data on public opinion.
Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: Foreign Affairs and Policy
"Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. We conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. We do not take policy positions." (About, Pew Research Center)
World Public Opinion
Started and maintained by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, WPO provides data from public opinion polls around the world.
American Public Opinion and United States Foreign Policy Series (ICPSR)
Most recently conducted in 2014. "This series of quadrennial studies was designed to investigate the opinions and attitudes of the general public and a select group of opinion leaders (or elites) on matters relating to United States foreign policy and to define the parameters of public opinion within which decision-makers must operate." (About)
The New York Times: Polls and Public Opinion
Note: Other newspapers and magazines may also publish their own public opinion polls.
PollingReport.com labels itself as a "An independent, nonpartisan resource
on trends in American public opinion." Some content is behind a pay wall.
Program for Public Consultation
A part of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, the Program for Public Consultation provides public opinion on key domestic and international issues facing the U.S. government.