Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where are all the reports of grassroots support for Organizing for American in Delaware yesterday?

In April it was all the rage among our liberal and progressive friends to visit Tea Parties across the State, make fun of the people showing up, and generally deride their cause....

Damn near every political blog in the State (except me, frankly) went out looking for Tea Parties, covered the speeches, interviewed the participants, and gave estimates of the number of attendees....

Yesterday was the big kick-off of grassroots organizing for the Obama health care reform package, with planned meetings throughout June 6 around the country. The DNC/Obama 2012 campaign organization Organizing for America has argued vociferously that without grassroots support there will be no health care reform bill...

Yet what's interesting is the near-complete absence (I am pretty sure Nancy Willing ran something about a week ago, but I cannot find the link right now) of hype within Delaware for these OFA kick-off events, and--more significantly--the complete lack of reporting anywhere in the MSM or the blogosphere about what happened and how many people turned out.

Maybe millions of people gathered in living rooms around Delaware and the nation to discuss health care reform, but if they did so, they did so very quietly.

Then again, as The Atlantic reports, maybe they didn't. It is possible that perpetual campaign mode just isn't going to work any better for President Obama than for anybody else who has ever tried it:

OFA's first foray into grassroots politicking came earlier this year, when it organized canvasses that generated around 100,000 pledges of support for Obama's budget blueprint, it says. Together with online pledges drummed up via emails to its supporters list, OFA delivered pledges from 214,000 people in April to legislative offices on Capitol Hill.

Critics have noted that, despite OFA's boasting about those numbers, it's quite a low percentage of OFA's total number of supporters, which is believed to be around 13 million--it's 1.65 percent, in fact. A YouTube video of Obama talking about health care reform, which OFA emailed to its supporters, has collected just over 100,000 views (100,911 as of the time of this posting).

If you can only get 1.65 percent of your supporters to sign a pledge supporting one of your goals, that's not very impressive, they say.

Success or failure of this grassroots kick-off is--or at least should be--news.

Which is why I find the silence all the more ... perplexing.

Then again: maybe not.


Miko said...

I think that the article is a bit disingenous in conflating "supporters" with "people who receive their e-mails." A fair number of those e-mails probably end up unread in trash folders. People respond to one e-mail forwarded to them by a friend and end up on the organization's e-mail list despite having no real interest in it and never bother figuring out how to get off of it, or are interested in a different organization but end up on this organizations list through subtle member sharing agreements between the groups.

All in all, this makes the 13 million figure meaningless. Compare this to voter turnout figures that give a percentage of those eligible to vote and conveniently ignore those who haven't registered to vote as a way of artificially creating the impression that the system has more public support than it really does; in this case, throwing the 100,000-200,000 dedicated members into a group of 13 million serves the opposite purpose, of making the group seem smaller than it really is.

Ideally, they should succeed or fail based on the quality of their ideas and their ability to persuade others. Failing that, I prefer hard numbers to percentages.

tom said...

yeah. i ended up on that "supporter" list last year after emailing Sen Obama's office last spring opposing the warrantless wiretapping reauthorization. i tried for months to unsubscribe, then gave up and blackholed their mailserver.