These associations also seek to influence public opinion as a way to achieve their ends.
In democracies like the US where operations of the government are dependent on the people’s consent in an election, leaders are obligated to take public opinion into account. Indeed, major policy change shifts tend to coincide with the occurrence of major public opinion shifts (Lowi et al, 2013). Generally, therefore, both Congress and the Executive respond to the preferences of the public, for example regarding government spending, welfare reform, and foreign policy issues. Still, the government should be responsive to public opinion because it needs the backing of the public for re-election. Essentially, therefore, government actions are consistent with public opinion with a study finding that significant shifts in public opinion tend to be followed by shifts in government policy within a year consistent with popular opinion shifts (Lowi et al, 2013).
Still, this does not mean that the government panders to all the preferences of the public. This is caused by inconsistency between commitment of the nominal majority and adherents of minority viewpoints, as well as inconsistency between public opinion and the character of the US system of government (Lowi et al, 2013). Overall, however, government actions do not digress from popular opinion for extended periods due to the electoral process. However, the government is also able to take leeway in its response to public opinion because the latter is not specific, while its measurement is not always accurate.
To meet this challenge, public interest groups representing a select population have risen in prominence. These associations attempt to pressure government through various methods, including mobilizing public opinion (Lowi et al, 2013). This involves the use of resources at their disposal to persuade a majority of the public to