1) NEA Survey: Members "Not
Energized for the Election." If it seemed like the
National Education Association's advocacy for the re-election of President
Obama during last month's Representative Assembly was a bit forced and
anxious, it's probably because the union's internal polling shows a genuine
lack of enthusiasm for four more years of the current federal education and
At the end of each calendar year, NEA
surveys its members and its activists, asking a variety of questions to get
their pulse on the upcoming year in politics. The union holds the results of
these surveys very close to the vest, but
when you can get hold of one, it is always informative. At the end of
2011, NEA commissioned
GBA Strategies, a DC-based communications and opinion research firm, to
conduct a survey of 750 rank-and-file members and an additional 750
activists, the latter defined as elected union reps, PAC contributors, and
other members who have been involved in organized union political
The numbers reinforce what past surveys
demonstrated. NEA and its activists are not at odds with the leanings and
desires of the rank-and-file, but their opinions are much more zealous and
less nuanced than those of the average member.
Sixty percent of the rank-and-file
surveyed gave Obama a favorable rating, while 26 percent gave him an
unfavorable rating. For presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney,
the numbers were 26 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.
Among NEA activists each of those
leanings intensified significantly. Seventy-three percent rated Obama
favorably, while only 17 percent rated him unfavorably. Romney's ratings
among activists were 18 percent favorable and 57 percent unfavorable.
Obama's job performance stats showed a
similar gap overall, but neither group was overjoyed. Only 19 percent of the
rank-and-file strongly approved of how the President was doing his job while
20 percent strongly disapproved. The activists were somewhat kinder. Thirty
percent of them strongly approved while only 12 percent strongly
Asked to choose between Obama and
Romney, it was no contest. The rank-and-file selected the President 56% (36%
"strong") to 26% for Romney, with the rest undecided. The activists went for
Obama 70% (49% "strong") to 16% for Romney, with the rest undecided.
The layman might find these numbers
encouraging for NEA, but the union is worried that even its activists aren't
planning on being very active. Only 10 percent of the rank-and-file and 13
percent of the activists were "very likely" to join
Educators for Obama, the NEA PAC volunteer group. Twenty-four percent in
each group were "not likely at all" to do so. And even among those likely to
join, large percentages wouldn't talk to the media, recruit others, or
volunteer for two hours a month.
GBA Strategies came to the simple
conclusion that while a significant majority of NEA members supported the
re-election of the President, "they are not energized for the election." The
firm recommended more work be done to mobilize the union membership "even if
it means concentrating on educating them about how bad the alternative is."
NEA obviously has taken that
recommendation to heart in 2012. But a "Vote for Obama So Things Don't Get
Worse" message isn't a formula for success with education voters (or with
those who vote on the economy, for that matter). NEA won't be able to
energize Obama voters. Only Obama can. He hasn't shown any signs of
reversing course in education policy or personnel, so NEA is playing the
only cards it holds.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from July 31-August 6:
You Now or Have You Ever Been Married to Dan Senor? Sleeping with the
To Those Whom Much Is Given, Much Will Be Mangled. Misquoted,
grammatically incorrect, and not all what you think it means.
Could AFT Membership Really Be Up? Answer: Yes, but we really should
stop double-counting those merged state members.
Tax Fairness. Another evil corporation fighting to hang on to its tax
School District Spending Where You Live. Alabama through Hawaii posted.
More to come.
Quote of the Week.
"It's completely illegal for that money to be used for lobbying or any
political issue in the state or nationally. The only thing that money is
used for is to help teachers."- Amanda Wollert, Pennsylvania State Education
Association UniServ representative, speaking about union dues. Wollert is
wrong. Union dues can't be used to donate to a political candidate, as we
all saw in
Broward County. Union dues can be, and are, used for lobbying and
virtually every other conceivable political activity. (August 3
West Chester Patch)