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Friend-to-Friend Organizing
Alex Steffen, 28 Jan 04

Howard has a great post up on Smart Mobs about how field organizing and GOTV (get out the vote) might be done better:

One of the reasons the last minute get out the vote campaign in Korea worked so well was the combination of Internet-based organization for collective action via Ohmynews and the social-network-based get-out-the-vote campaign that followed. Korean activists sent emails and SMS messages to people they knew personally and tipped the election in favor of their candidate, now President Roh. Mobilizing one's own social network is more effective than spamming strangers. My attention was piqued when Henri Poole introduced me to Dan Robinson, who told me about the use of a Web-based application to enable get-out-the-vote campaigning via social networks. Pat Dunlavey conducted research to assess the effectiveness of a "friend-to-friend" (PDF) get-out-the-vote campaign, reporting contact rates of 84% vs 45% for cold-calling and ID rates of 57% vs 31%:

"To put this all another way, with the web system facilitating a friend to friend campaign, we were able to recruit and utilize 2% of the vote-eligible population as volunteers, and with that 2%, come very close to saturating the potentially supportive population (late-comers to the volunteer ranks complained that almost every person they could think of was taken), without wasted effort and alienation or mobilization of the opposition.

"I call this a “friend to friend” campaign. Instead of laying siege to the population and wearing it down with uncomfortable and unwanted approaches from strangers ringing doorbells or calling during the dinner hour, you grow the campaign from the inside, through the web of relationships inside the community."

Of course, we should note that 2% of a given population is an extremely high rate of volunteer participation on any given campaign. That said, consider the implications here for other kinds of organizing, like public health awareness campaigns, or boycotts. If this study holds up, it's powerful.

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This is what the 2004 presidential campaign is going to be all about. Both the rebuplicans and the democrats have recognized that person to person organizing is what it is all about.

The AFL-CIO among others have been doing data collection that shows personal and frequent contact increase persuasion and voter turn out. I know they've been creating tools for activists (was having a hard time finding it though)

The Republican party has organized its 72 hour task force and other online activist tools.

(ahh just looking at this is getting me depressed)

Posted by: adrian on 29 Jan 04

Well, ...yes ... but, as soon as we realise it everybody will start using the f2f network. And we will just be bombarded by sms from all sort of distant relations, or closer ones. I doubt that it would actually be more pleasent than an actual campaign.
"do you want your candidate to be elected,
or are you just happy to see me?"

Posted by: Pietro on 29 Jan 04



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