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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 and votes to see the potential influence of interest groups on American foreign policy.
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.
"The site is used by ordinary citizens and legislative professionals to find and track bills in the U.S. Congress and to understand their representatives’ legislative record.
We bring together the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records, congressional district maps, and more (see the table at the right). and make it easier to understand" (About Us).