When powerful pressure groups fall

Published 10:58 AM ET, Thu October 15, 2015
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Nearly every mass shooting is followed by calls to tighten gun laws. But such efforts are always opposed by the National Rifle Association. Considered the most effective lobbying group in America, the NRA seems unbeatable. But there are four times when a seemingly invincible group was defeated, and hardly anyone saw it coming. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
America went dry in 1919 with the dawn of Prohibition. Authorities poured liquor into the sewers in New York City and elsewhere as reformers promised a moral awakening across the nation. But Prohibition had unintended consequences which ultimately doomed the Anti-Saloon League, the ruthless political lobbying group that made Prohibition possible. FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
He made politicians tremble and could even make or break presidents, some said. Wayne Bidwell Wheeler led the Anti-Saloon League and pioneered many of the tactics that lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association use today. He contributed to the creation of Prohibition and in doing so gave a lesson on how political power works. Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Once upon a time, everyone seemed to smoke, as portrayed in shows such as "Mad Men." They smoked on planes, in restaurants and in offices -- even though studies concluded smoking was harmful. Why did people keep puffing? Historians say Big Tobacco used money, advertising and bogus science to promote the habit. AMC
Big Tobacco executives testified before Congress in 1994, declaring they did not believe cigarettes were harmful to people's health. Their testimony was derided by much of the American public and became a turning point in the battle against the lobbying power of the cigarette industry. Ray Lustig/The Washington Post/getty images
Big Tobacco survived for years by marketing cigarettes to men as a rugged lifestyle choice and to women as a way to lose weight. But when cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds began marketing to youth with its infamous "Joe Camel" ads, it experienced a backlash from the American public. from RJ reynolds tobacco co
Fidel Castro, seen here lighting a cigar with revolutionary Che Guevara, brought communism to Cuba. He also gave rise to one of the most powerful pressure groups in American politics, the Cuba lobby. This relatively small group of Cuban exiles hated Castro and shaped America's foreign policy with Cuba for nearly 50 years. Getty Images
Orlando Bosch was linked to at least 50 attacks against Cuba's communist government, including being suspected of bombing a Cuban commercial airliner. Bosch's hatred of Cuba made him a hero of the Cuba lobby and served as a warning to any U.S. politician who thought of normalizing relations with the island nation. ap
AIPAC has been considered one of the most formidable lobbying groups in America. The pro-Israel group worked hard to block the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran -- and suffered a stunning defeat that surprised many observers. Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated the deal with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif. DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images