Where is Organizing for Action working? Mostly in blue states.

May 7, 2013

Organizing for Action, President Obama’s political advocacy group, on Monday released a snazzy interactive map showing how OFA supporters were influential in the gun debate over the last two months.

But a close look shows that OFA supporters were most active in states where Obama’s agenda is already widely popular – and were much less energized in states where Obama needs to win over lawmakers to his side.

An analysis of the data in the map shows that nearly 6,900 people registered for  215 OFA events in states that voted for Obama in 2012. By contrast, just about 2,000 people registered for 102 OFA events in states won by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Breaking the numbers down further, about 4,000 people registered for OFA 79 events in states easily won by Obama, about 3,200 people registered for 159 events in swing states and about 1,700 people registered for 79 events in states easily won by Romney. OFA also cataloged 88 news reports covering events in Obama states, and 34 in Romney states.

There are caveats about the data, of course. It counts people who are RSVPed, not people who actually showed up, is anecdotal and not necessarily comprehensive. But it’s the best snapshot OFA can provide.

OFA spokeswoman Katie Hogan wrote in an e-mail that the map shows the depth and breadth of Americans' support for the president's agenda.

"With thousands of events and over 1.5 million action takers in just the first 14 weeks of OFA, we are seeing an outpouring of support on issues from gun violence prevention to comprehensive immigration reform," Hogan wrote." When it comes to influencing senators to listen to 90% of Americans in supporting background checks, we have a great opportunity in states with a high level of activity from OFA volunteers that are outraged or thankful at how their senator voted. States like Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire you are already seeing the effect that voting against the will of their constituents is having on those senators just as approval ratings for senators who listened to their constituents is growing in places like Pennsylvania and Louisiana."

GOP Sens. Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) have approached Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about the prospect of voting again on a measure strengthening background checks on gun sales, the Post reported Monday.

An OFA official, who asked not to be identified, said that just as some of the events in Arizona, Illinois and North Carolina provided some level of political cover for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and GOP Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and John McCain (Ariz.) to vote yes, rallies in Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire  could well pressure Republican senators Flake, Isakson and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) to change their "no" votes in the coming weeks.

It makes sense that OFA would have a high level of support in liberal states such California and Illinois, the official added, and would be able to turn out larger numbers of activists in major cities.

But the official argued the map also shows how they were able to mobilize backers in battleground states from the 2012 election, such as Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina, as well as in cities ranging from Charlotte, N.C. to Dallas, Tex..

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Sean Sullivan | May 7, 2013