Thinking About Differential Participation

Now that the bulk of American Resistance is drafted, I will be spending the next few months leading up to the midterm elections updating and revising the chapters (which will involve some new data collection).

In addition, I am currently working on a paper that focuses specifically on the differential rates of participation at the various protest events since the Resistance began.  This table presents the rates of differential participation across the protest events. Although one of the hallmarks of this current wave of contention is the fact that people are turning out again-and-again for protest events focused around different progressive issues, there is quite a bit of variation among first-timer participation at the various protest events (see this piece in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog for a discussion of the Families Belong Together Event).  The paper discusses how we can understand these varied rates of participation more clearly.


No Sign of Protest Fatigue

I’ve been asked  a number of times this week if the Resistance is experiencing “protest fatigue.”  At this point, I see no evidence of it: people are protesting daily in downtown DC at the White House and there are numerous counter protests scheduled for this weekend around the Unite The Right 2 rally in DC.  This weekend’s events mark the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA that claimed the life of a counter protester.  In advance of the anniversary, the state of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville have declared a state-of-emergency .

At the same time, turnout at this week’s primaries provides more evidence that the Resistance is diversifying its tactics beyond marching in the streets.  For more on the ways the Resistance has focused its attention in the districts, check out Chapters 3 and 4.

The American Resistance Focuses its Attention on the Midterm Election

Attached is my draft of Chapter 3, which focuses on how individuals who have participated in the American Resistance–Resisters–are focusing their attention in the districts leading up to the midterm elections.  The findings presented in this chapter are based on a follow-up survey with resistors six months before the midterm elections in May 2018.  Like chapter 4, which focuses on Resistance groups working in the districts, these findings are likely to change quite a bit as we get closer to the election.   Given the findings from the follow-up survey, there are clear opportunities for groups and political candidates to think about what issues are most important to resistors (and potentially effective for mobilizing people to get more involved).  In addition, Chapter 3 provides thoughts about what to expect from the American Resistance after the midterm elections in November 2018.


From the Streets to the Districts

Chapter 3 is almost finished and it will be released before the end of the month (as promised).  In the meantime, I wanted to share an overview of the ways that participants in various moments of resistance in the streets have been engaging more broadly in democracy.  As you can see, some of these measures of civic engagement have gone up substantially since the Inauguration.  These data provide evidence that those who are marching in the streets are doing a lot more that just marching and yelling in the streets.  Moreover, they suggest that participants in the Resistance in the streets are extremely likely to vote.


Organizations take Center Stage at Families Belong Together March

In a piece I just published through the Monkey Cage at the Washington Post, I highlight some of my findings from this weekends #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch.

There was a lot of similarity between this recent march and previous large-scale protests in the Resistance in terms of demographics:  the Resistance continues to turn out more women than men who are highly educated.  For a highly educated crowd, though, Families Belong Together was relatively diverse–with the event turning out the highest percentage of Latinx that I have seen in my research so far.

Here is a table of the findings I discuss, showing the relationship between organizational membership and civic engagement.

Organizational EmbeddednessFamiliesBelongIMAGE

As I note in the piece, the Families Belong Together March provides evidence that organizations are not just mobilizing people to march in the streets, they are also providing channels through which they can take action in their own communities and districts.  In fact, many groups in the organizing coalition have focused increasing attention on political activities leading up to the midterm elections.  Given what these organizations were able to do in just 12 days, one can only imagine what is possible in the next 5 months.

On this Primary Day…

I took a break from coding follow-up interviews today to vote in our Primary Election (by the way, I am still on track to have Chapter 3 posted next month).  It was a very interesting trip to the polls.  In contrast to recent national elections (including 2016), there were many more electioneers standing outside my polling place and they ranged in age from around 6 to retired-age.  Given how many people were standing outside our local school, I was surprised by how few people were inside actually voting.

This very anecdotal experience reminded me of the recent work by Putnam and Skocpol that has found “what is underway is a national pattern of mutually energizing local engagement.”  All those people standing outside of a polling place trying to encourage voters to support specific candidates while so few people are inside casting a vote suggests that the current moment has not mobilized the population consistently.  Rather, like other moments of social change on the Right and Left (and my findings about the American Resistance), a minority of people have been energized and activated to participate in politics more so than the general population.  The full effect of this engagement will only be visible over time.

At the same time, there has been a growing call to march in the streets again.  This weekend, the Families Belong Together action will take place around the country (see my previous post and this more recent summary).  Some organizers are projecting that the March will turnout very high numbers across the country.  In July, a youth climate march has been called, and there are many more in the works.

Overall, this Resistance in the Districts and the Resistance in the Streets is telling a heartening story about how Democracy is alive and well in America today, even with the challenges it is currently facing.




The Resistance Calls for #FamiliesBelongTogether Action

With the Trump Administration’s new “zero tolerance policy” toward border crossings that is leading to the separation of children from their families, a broad coalition of organizations have called for a day of action on June 30th.   Included in the coalition are a number of prominent “Resistance Groups” incuding MoveOn, the Women’s March,  and the ACLU, along with other more issue-focused groups likGreenpeace,  NARAL,  and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

This day-of-action is likely to be the biggest mobilization since the March for Our Lives  took place in March.  In contrast to the 6 weeks it took to organize the March for Our Lives, however, the organizers have only 12 days before the #FamiliesBelongTogether event.

I will be fielding a team of researchers to collect data at the event by the White House, which is likely to be the biggest event.  Already, sister marches have been called for over 132 cities.

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.