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.

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.