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A voting bloc is a group of voters that are strongly motivated by a specific common concern or group of concerns to the point that such specific concerns tend to dominate their voting patterns, causing them to vote together in elections. For example, Beliefnet identifies 12 main religious blocs in American politics, including e.g. the "Religious Right", whose concerns are dominated by religious and sociocultural issues and "White Bread Protestants", who, while also conservative, tend to care more about economic issues. The result is that each of these groups votes en bloc in elections.
The divisions between voting blocs are known as cleavage. A voting bloc can be longstanding and institutionalized, such as support for business or labor, or it can be created from scratch as the result of the saliency of a new public issue, such as a war or the potential resumption of a military draft. Ethnic groups are sometimes considered to be voting blocs, but it is unwise to simply assume that a majority of a given ethnic group will vote in one particular way, as economic status and religious beliefs also play an important role. Voting blocs wax and wane according to the development of issues and personalities. These blocs can often disappear and reappear with time and are not necessarily motivated by one single issue.
Voting as a bloc can be an important tool for people with common issues they care. If a group of people can demonstrate its cohesion by voting consistently together as a bloc and able switch vote agilely as a group, in closely contested elections, even a minority group can gain considerable political power by becoming the deciding factor in an election.