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Social Pressure in Obama’s Fundraising

- September 27, 2011

Richard —

Here’s something you don’t have in common with 11,084 other supporters
of this movement who tell us they live in Washington, DC.

That many of your neighbors have decided to own a piece of this
campaign by making a donation of whatever they could afford. For some,
that meant just $5. For others, it meant $100 or more. But each had
their own personal reason for giving.

Our records show that you aren’t one of the 11,084 people where you’re
from who have stepped up for 2012. Now’s your chance to change that.

Make a donation of $75 or more today to support the campaign before
the critical September 30th deadline.

Here’s why you should join your neighbors in supporting this campaign:
We’ve been running the numbers, and with hundreds of thousands of
individual donors across the country — we are now well on our way to
a million people.

In the 2008 campaign, it took us more than a year to reach that
milestone. This time around, we could cross it as soon as October —
just six months after the launch of the campaign.

Between now and then, we have an important fundraising deadline.

Our opponents have significant operations on the ground in key
battleground states, full-time candidates without day jobs, and a lot
of media attention to fuel their campaigns.

President Obama has you. And when you’re building a grassroots
organization from the bottom up, the first person gets the next one
involved. And the first 11,084 provide the foundation and inspiration
for the next 11,084.

Support the campaign before the deadline, and bring us closer to one
million donors — give $75 today:


Thank you,


Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

From a new email that is apparently going around to people who donated to Obama in 2008, but haven’t donated for the 2012 campaign.  (I was not a 2008 donor to any presidential campaign.  This was forwarded by a friend.  See also Ben Smith.)

As Christian Grose tweeted, this is eerily reminiscent of some recent political science research (pdf) by Alan Gerber, Donald Green, and Christopher Larimer:

bq. A large-scale field experiment involving several hundred thousand registered voters used a series of mailings…Substantially higher turnout was observed among those who received mailings promising to publicize their turnout to their household or their neighbors. These findings demonstrate the profound importance of social pressure as an inducement to political participation.

The Obama email is not promising to reveal anything, but it is using a similar species of social pressure: comparing your actions to those of your (more participatory) neighbors.  Given the Obama campaign’s interest in data analytics, it wouldn’t surprise me if some polisci eggheadedness had crossed their path.

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