The Agitator’s Week In Review.  This was a week for politics, beginning with the Washington, D.C. soap opera over the on-again-off-again bailout of the  U.S. financial system and ending with the on-again Presidential Debates in Oxford, Mississippi.

Regardless of where you stand on the bailout you have to feel a sense of pride last night at how far the U.S. has come in the realm of social change when one of the two men on stage at Ole Miss was the nation’s first black nominee.


MONDAY –Tom kicked off the political week with a summary of a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center indicating Hispanics are becoming more pessimistic about the outlook for Latinos in America, with some of this discontent rubbing off on the Republicans.

50% of Hispanic adults say the situation for Hispanics in this country has worsened in the past year, compared to 33% with that view a year ago.

TUESDAY—Another Pew study.  This recent survey by the Pew Research Center has found that of the 44% of the public that goes online regularly at work, 70% check the news through the day.

But what news are they following?

Observes Pew:

"The quest for news at work might come as a surprise in the face of findings about the public’s news knowledge. The same Pew Research survey asked Americans to name which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives (the Democratic Party), to identify the U.S. secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice) and name the prime minister of Great Britain (Gordon Brown). Only 18% of the public is able to correctly answer all three political knowledge questions, while a third (33%) could not answer any."

So much for issue politics!

And we wonder why it’s so hard to raise money for issue advocacy groups! In our latest DonorTrends 08 survey, only one in five respondents say they have given to an issue advocacy group.

WEDNESDAY—We continued down the polling path with  another fascinating report from Pew Research Center indicating the bias of cell phone-only respondents to political polls.

Pew has conducted three surveys on presidential candidate preferences since the primaries ended. In each case, they isolated the responses of individuals who reported using cell phones only.

Amongst these respondents, Obama holds a significant advantage (10-15 percentage points), whereas among respondents who use landlines, or landlines and cellphones, Obama and McCain are running a dead heat.

But politics aside, if your nonprofit does survey research by phone (we at The Agitator, via DonorTrends, do all our research online), you need to consider the Pew findings carefully from a methodological standpoint. Particularly if you’re trying to probe the post-Boomer generations, the choice of contact medium appears now to make a significant difference. Cell-only users are a unique tribe. You’ll need to get to know them.

THURSDAY — It used to be that "good government" advocates like the League of Women Voters and high school civics teachers were thrilled if anyone merely watched political debates!

With the advent of the web’s online engagement, viewing and social networking options, however, the "good citizen" bar has been raised substantially.  Now you can vote instantly on the winner, register to host official viewing parties, and of course watch the debate online while you multi-task.

Here’s what the Obama and McCain campaigns wanted their supporters to do around the first debate. For Obama   For McCain

And, as we noted, your nonprofit’s CEO isn’t likely to have access to prime time TV on a scheduled basis anytime soon, but were he or she to do a webcast to the faithful, these campaign tools would apply.

FRIDAY— We wrapped up our political week with a visit to the folks over on Convio’s blog, Connection Cafe, where their staff has been comparing the websites of Obama and McCain on key attributes like accessibility, ease and clarity of navigation, and — of most interest to me — engagement features and pathways.

These sites, as they push the engagement envelope and perhaps overload on bells & whistles, are offering more involvement than we’d ever care to have with a campaign! But that’s a key point … offer different strokes for different folks. Just make it very easy for your supporter to find their own level of engagement.

By the way, the analyses offered at Convio Connection are terrific.

Your Weekend Bonus.  There’s just never enough time to see first hand what’s good, what’s bad and what’s just plain mediocre in the fast-changing world of new media.  Some of the most innovative and effective developments occur in world of political campaigning.

So, we recommend you spend some time reviewing the insights of the folks at  TechPresident, who do a brilliant job of reporting and critiquing from numerous perspectives the online strategies and tactics of the presidential campaigns.

In recent months  and for good reason they’ve been gushing about the scope and creativity of presidential campaign efforts to engage and empower supporters via the web.

TechPresident is a project of the Personal Democracy Forum.  So, if it’s a rainy weekend in your part of the woods as it is in mine it’s well worth a tour.  Chances are you’ll discover at least 7 techniques you can put to work for your cause tomorrow. 

Enjoy your weekend,


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