How Organized is the Resistance in the Districts?

This post is my first to discuss what I am learning from the follow-up surveys with participants in the Resistance in the Streets (if you are interested in how they compare to the full sample, see this post). The figure below presents the breakdown of participation in various groups that are working to organize Resistance in the Districts (for more on these groups, see Chapter 4).

Overall, the data show that participants in the Resistance in the Streets are working with organizations in their communities.  They are connecting through pre-existing groups like MoveOn (21% of the sample) and the ACLU (13%), as well as through the newer “Resistance Groups.”  Participants reported working with both the Women’s March, which was directly involved in mobilizing people to march in the streets and  Indivisible, which has emerged as a leading group organizing people to work in their districts and communities (20% and 19% respectively).  At the same time, the most common organization named by members of the Resistance in the Streets was the Democratic Party (37% of the sample).


In the coming weeks, I will be looking at how people are working with these organizations, the degree to which there is overlap, and what other groups may have emerged as leaders in the Resistance in the Districts.  I will also look at what respondents report to be the biggest challenges facing our country and what they believe to be the solutions.

How Do the Follow-ups Compare?

Today I completed clean-up of the data collected from the follow-up surveys with participants in the Resistance in the Streets.  I also conducted some preliminary analyses comparing the follow-up sub-sample to the full sample of 1,736 participants that were collected in the streets at large-scale protest events since the Resistance began at the Women’s March in 2017.

Overall, the follow-up sample is relatively similar to the full sample of participants in the Resistance in the Streets: there are no statistically significant differences in gender, race, or political ideology.  In other words, just like the original data collected in the streets,  the follow-up sample is more female, more white, and more progressive than the general population.

However, the follow-up participants are more educated than the overall sample and are less likely to be first-time protesters.  I will be keeping these differences in mind as I move forward analyzing the data.

Follow-Up Survey is Complete!

I’m reporting back after fielding the follow-up survey with participants in the Resistance in the Streets.  The survey officially closes this weekend after 3 weeks but I don’t expect a huge wave of surveys coming in before Memorial Day.  I’m just hoping that the small number of people who started surveys and haven’t finished them will complete them before (while?) they are celebrating the beginning of the summer.

Whatever happens in the next few days, however, participation in the follow-up is very good: 28.7%!  There are many ways to calculate and report on a response rate–I have tweeted some of these issues but will not bore everyone here with it (for anyone who wants to geek out on these issues, it will be a long footnote in Chapter 3).

After the holiday weekend, I will formally close the survey and merge these data on what participants have done since they marched in the streets with the data collected at protest events.  By June 1, I hope to be analyzing those data, which are both quantitative and qualitative.  In a perfect world, I hope to have a draft of Chapter 3 posted and shared in early July.

The Geography of the Resistance in the Streets

Where do the participants of the marches in Washington, DC call home?  Are they the most motivated protesters from around the country or are they coming in to the District from the local area?

A recent poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Fund found a surge in protesting in the US, finding that 1 in 5 Americans have protested since the beginning of 2016. In their series on political crowds for the Monkey Cage, Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman have chronicled the millions of people who have turned out for these demonstrations around the country. However, we have yet to understand where people come from to participate in the Resistance in the Streets.

One of the questions on my survey is where people traveled from to attend.  With the responses from the 1,736 protest participants whom we sampled in the streets, I worked with Joshua Redmond and Lorien Jasny at the University of Exeter to map out the origins of what I call the Resistance in the Streets for the DC marches since the Resistance began.

In contrast to what many would expect (especially since these events were held concurrent with sister marches that took place all over the country), people reported traveling from around the US to participate in the main marches in Washington, DC. It is true that there was a large local presence with Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia ranking in the top five origins for participants at almost every Washington, DC March, (at the 2017 March for Science, the District of Columbia was not a top starting point).

Even though people traveled from all over the US to attend these marches, the representation from other states was not consistent across states.  In fact, representation was much higher from states on the West Coast than from more proximate states in the middle of America.

This map shows the origins of all of the participants sampled at large-scale protest events in DC since the inauguration: The 2017 Women’s March, the 2017 March for Science, the 2017 People’s Climate March, the March for Racial Justice, the 2018 Women’s March and the March for Our Lives. Taken together, we can see that participants at these events drew more from the coasts than from the middle of the US.

Although there are variations across each march, with some, like the locally coordinated 2018 Women’s March, drawing most participants from the East Coast, the pattern holds.  In other words, not only is the Resistance predominantly female and highly educated, the Resistance in the Streets of Washington DC is being (wo)manned by the coastal elite.Allmapranked


6 months Until the Mid-Terms…

It’s officially 6 months until the mid-term elections and the first big primary of 2018 is tomorrow.  Last but not least, my follow-up survey of people who were sampled participating in the Resistance in the Streets (ie at all the big demonstrations that have taken place since Donald Trump’s Inauguration) goes live today!

If you are one of the 844 people who were surveyed by my research team and provided an email address to participate in a follow-up, you will receive an invitation with a link to the survey today.  It’s brief and anonymous and asks about your experiences marching on Washington and participating in politics since the inauguration.

As with all research, the findings will only be as good as the data I collect.  Here’s hoping for good data to analyze!

Countdown to Next Wave of Data Collection

On Monday (6 months before the mid-term elections), I will be sending out a follow-up survey to my sample of participants in the Resistance in the Streets.

The survey asks for an update on civic and political activities, as well as about experiences participating in activities in communities and with ‘Resistance Groups.’  Finally, the survey asks people to list what they consider to be the top 3 issues facing the country today and what should be done about these issues.

Overall, these questions will take the temperature of the Resistance right now–about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why.

If you get a request to participate, please do!

Organizing Resistance in the Districts

Attached is my draft of Chapter 4, which focuses on Organizing Resistance in the Districts.  This chapter is likely to change substantially as election season heats up.  For now, though, it sets the stage regarding how “Resistance Groups” are organizing in the districts:  groups are maintaining a hyper-local focus that aims to fill what many Resistance Groups have identified as an infrastructural deficit left by the Democratic Party.  With an organizational landscape that is densely populated with overlapping interests, constituencies, and funding streams, conflict is assured despite how little conflict has been observed thus far.


Breaking up the Resistance in the Districts

I write with some major changes to the structure of American Resistance (the book project, not the movement):  While doing the fieldwork collecting data with protesters at various events and interviewing so-called Resistance Groups about their work in the districts, I realized that there was a missing piece to this puzzle.

As a result, I am breaking the Resistance in the Districts chapter into two:  one chapter about individual resistance and the other about the groups that are working to organize this resistance.

Organizing Resistance in the Districts, which will now be chapter 4 in the book, will go live VERY SOON (before the end of the month).   The newly added chapter on individual resistance will be based on follow-up data collected from the participants at various protests since the Resistance began.

WARNING: If you filled out a survey at a large-scale protest in Washington, DC with someone from my research team (on our pink tablets) and said you were willing to participate in a follow-up, expect to hear from me in early May once my IRB Protocol is approved!




What to expect:

And the Marches Keep Coming

This weekend, the second March for Science will take place in Washington DC and 230 other ‘sister marches’ around the world.

There’s no question that the flagship March in Washington, DC will have better weather–last year it was chilly with lots of rain.  Research has corroborated what you might expect: nice weather is  associated with higher turnout at marches and demonstrations (as well as all sorts of other outdoor activities). Even with the predicted rain-free warm day, it’s unclear how many people will actually turn out.  I will not be fielding a research team this weekend since the crowd in Washington, DC is not expected to be larger than 50,000 people, which is my threshold for considering an event a “large-scale demonstration” and studying it.

For my findings from data collected at last year’s March for Science, which turned out an estimated 100,000 people see this recent paper in Sociological Forum.  Here’s Table 1:ScientistsInTheResistance

Teachers in Red States Resist

At the same time that the survivors from the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were leading political resistance around gun control, teachers in a number of Red states have gone on strike. So far, teachers have walked out in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, and it is possible that other states will join in soon.

There is no question that these strikes are motivated by grievances specific to the education systems in these states, however there are some striking similarities between these teachers and the participants to the Resistance in the Street that I have been studying.  Here is a table comparing the demographics at the major marches in the Resistance. Like the teachers who are currently on strike, the majority are highly educated white women and many of them are coordinating specifically via social media.