Monday, March 12, 2012

Astroturf Organizations And The Real Thing

There are organizations that really are grassroots based and then there are those that could most charitably be called astroturf organizations. Nowhere is this more evident than in gun rights.

Let's compare the various gun prohibitionist organizations with the 800-pound "gorilla" aka the National Rifle Association. To do this, I suggest using as a proxy for grassroots support the number of "likes" an organization has on Facebook. With 845 million members worldwide, Facebook provides an easy way to signal your support of an organization through its "like" mechanism.

Starting with the Violence Policy Center, we find that they have 290 likes. With just a fraction more at 296, comes the Legal Community Against Violence. Then there is that new group who tried to organize a boycott of Starbucks Coffee called the National Gun Victims Action Council. I guess with only 304 likes, it is no wonder their boycott fizzled.

What about everyone's favorite grassroots group - the Coalition Against Gun Violence.? Surely they have a lot more and they do. That is, if you count 4,244 as a lot. To put this into perspective, the Complementary Spouse's nephew who is a pro gamer has over 4,900 friends on Facebook. Maybe CSGV's numbers aren't all that hot after all.

How about the Brady Campaign? I mean they must have a lot as they are the leading gun prohibitionist organization out there as well as having merged the Million Moms March into their organization. They must have hundreds of thousands of likes. Unfortunately for them, their numbers come in at only 15,766 likes. You have to wonder what happened to all those million moms.

So that's it for the gun prohibitionists.

And that 800-pound gorilla of gun rights - the National Rifle Association? How does 1,402,274 sound? It sounds like real grassroots to me.

Numbers don't lie. The NRA really is a grassroots organization and the gun prohibitionists are merely astroturf.

(These numbers are as of 10pm EDT, Monday March 12th)

UPDATE: As SayUncle noted, Kevin is encouraging people to "like" the Second Amendment Foundation as well. SAF is behind the Bradys by about 5,000 likes. It would be nice to see them overtake the Bradys in short order. After all, they continually beat them in court.


  1. The Second Amendment Foundation has 9,315, or over twice that of the CSGV. Pretty good for the 'new' kid on the block. On the other hand, considering all of the incredible things they've done to advance the right to arms in the United States, it's a shame they have fewer than the Brady Bunch. I think we need to change that!

  2. @MonteG: You are correct - and we need to work on that. Moreover, many of the state organizations such as ISRA are in the 5,000 likes range.

  3. I feel I have to add in here that I, and some friends of mine, do not and will not have a Facebook account. So I can't "friend" the NRA or the SAF, but I sure support the hell out of them.

  4. @Dannytheman: Given that I'd wager more pro-rights supporters are NOT on Facebook proportionately than the prohibitionists, this makes their numbers even worse.

  5. I liked CSGV, even after they banned me. Great source of news articles and humorous commentary. I now laugh at least once a day thanks to them. How many of their fans are actually gun enthusiasts? Probably more than there are anti-gunners who are fans of the NRA.

  6. I agree that most of the anti-civil rights lobby (Brady Campaign, LCAV, etc.) are [or are approaching] - at least now - astroturf. However, a few thoughts:

    * NRA has a huge budget. As a result, it spends more than any other on branding and brand reinforcement. Translation: high volume of likes.

    * NRA is old, maybe your dad or grandpa or uncle was a member, and its about guns: Translation: "why not" likes . [On the other hand, with few exceptions, Brady et al. don't have the legacy and nostalgia factors; additionally, they offer negative value to most people.]

    * Joyce and its beneficiaries shouldn't be underestimated or dismissed on social networking stats. Where NRA is investing in members and constituent-level buy in, Joyce et al. are investing in "research", "news", electioneering, and litigation. They offer value to those in academia, journalists, candidates/politicians, firms/organizations, and the judiciary with an interest in suppressing fundamental rights as protected under the Second Amendment. [That's not to say that civil rights advocates don't have some of this behind them, but it's not 1:1 in all areas of importance.]


  7. GOA has 72,437 likes as of now, still WAY more than all the anti's together.
    These misguided souls don't HAVE any "grassroots" support to speak of; they're just good at making a lot of noise that politicians hear.

  8. Bill - so you agree that social standing != efficacy?

  9. Brandon @2:36am, you raise some good points. While the Brady Campaign, et al. would like to think that the NRA gets all its money from Big Gun Corporations, the reality is, though, that they have so much money because of grassroots support.

    I would also add that, although I'm not an NRA member, nor do I use my Facebook account all that much, I'm not aware of the NRA pushing its Facebook page via guess is, though, that they might encourage NRA members to "like" their Facebook page in the various mailings and magazines they send to their members (or would-be members), sort-of as an afterthought...which would again be a side-effect of NRA's grassroots support.