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Master's Professional Reports Abstract



Grassroots Campaigns: A New Force in American Politics

Gone are the days when groups could simply contract with a well-known lobbyist to achieve their political goals behind closed doors. Winning legislative or regulatory battles in today's political environment increasingly requires interest groups to sell their position not only to government officials, but also to the public. A growing number of groups are turning to grassroots campaigns as a political strategy to take their position to the public. These issue campaigns, like candidate campaigns, rely on new communications technology and the mass media to disseminate their message. Some have called into question the legitimacy of grassroots campaigns, claiming that groups often use them to create a perception that public support for an issue exists when in fact it does not. Political pundits refer to such artificial grassroots as "Astroturf." This report traces the evolution of grassroots campaigns, outlines a popular campaign model, and takes a hard look at the difference between real grassroots and Astroturf.

--Author's foreword.