Unity08 has a stated goal of registering 10 million delegates by July 1, 2008 to participate in the world’s supposed first-ever online secure national presidential nomination. That’s just 414 days from now.
Since Unity08 delegate signups began in January of 2007, delegates have been a subset of users, since people can sign up to be Unity08 users with privileges to post on a message board, but decline to become a registered delegate. On the other hand, all people who sign up to be delegates are also registered as users. Therefore, the number of registered delegates (not the number of registered “delegates and supporters,” a higher but conveniently untrackable number often cited by Unity08 — see pages 105 to 106 of Douglas L. Bailey’s redacted lawsuit deposition) must be lower than the number of registered users. Despite this, Unity08 has been claiming a new number of over 50,000 delegates for some weeks now, and explicitly repeating the claim in interviews. The number that simply does not match its own measurable performance.
On the evening of March 20, 2007, the first time I checked, the highest registered user number on Unity08 was 25,100.
On the morning of March 29, 2007, 8.5 days later and the highest registered user number was 27,409.
On the morning of April 4, 2007, 6 days later, the highest registered user number was 29,360.
On the morning of April 11, 2007, 7 days later, the highest registered user number was 30,301.
On the morning of April 18, 2007, 7 days later, the highest registered user number was 30,611.
On the morning of April 25, 2007, 7 days later, the highest registered user number was 31,807.
On the morning of May 2, 2007, 7 days later, the highest registered user number was 34,945.
On the morning of May 8, 2007, 6 days later, the highest registered user number was 35,411.
On the morning of May 14, 2007, 6 days later, the highest registered user number was 35,684.
Let’s be generous in our assumptions and imagine that each new user is also a new delegate. With that kind assumption, dividing the differences in user numbers by the days elapsed gives us the rate of delegate recruitment over time:
From 3/20/07 to 3/29/07: 272 new delegates per day.
From 3/29/07 to 4/4/07: 325 new delegates a day.
From 4/4/07 to 4/11/07: 134 new delegates a day.
From 4/12/07 to 4/18/07: 44 new delegates a day.
From 4/19/07 to 4/25/07: 171 new delegates a day.
From 4/26/07 to 5/2/07: 448 new delegates a day.
From 5/3/07 to 5/8/07: 78 new delegates a day.
From 5/9/07 to 5/14/07: 46 new delegates a day.
So much for the grassroots snowball, to horribly mix metaphors. If Unity08 were really a popular idea, it would be gaining new adherents exponentially as the idea spread from person to person: as more people who signed up, more people would tell their friends, leading to even more people signing up, and even more people telling friends… But that’s not what’s happening, either because the few delegates signing up aren’t telling their friends, or because they are telling their friends and their friends aren’t buying it. So no, Unity08 is not really a “popular” idea, in the sense that its meager growth isn’t driven by some engine within the populace itself.
Instead, what we see in the varying (but always pretty low) recruitment rate of Unity08 is the effect of free media time on TV. When Sam Waterston got the chance to wiggle his eyebrows in front of the national press corps at a special insider-arranged luncheon three weeks ago, the people who watched it on C-Span created a temporary spike in Unity08’s recruitment. Take away the wiggling eyes from the boob tube and Unity08’s recruitment bottoms out again.
At the latest recruitment rate of 46 delegates a day, Unity08 will add 19,044 more delegates by its nominating date of July 1, 2008 — a bit more than a third of the number of people who have signed a petition asking commercial pharmacies to stop withholding contraceptives from American women. Even if we inaccurately assume that every current Unity08 user account represents a delegate, there are at the very most 35,684 current delegates. That means at the current rate, Unity08 would only muster a total of 54,728 delegates, a mere 0.5% of its declared goal of 10,000,000 nominating delegates.
As the weeks creep on with Unity08 managing only anemic delegate recruitment, the recruitment rate which Unity08 will need to muster to meet its goal continues to grow. If Unity08 is going to accomplish its goal of recruiting 10,000,000 nominating delegates, then beginning today and for the rest of this year and into the next, Unity08 will have to reach and sustain a recruitment rate of 24,068 delegates a day — a rate 523 times as high as this past week’s rate. Of course that won’t happen, so by next week the needed daily delegate recruitment rate will be hundreds higher, putting the goal even further out of reach.
When Unity08 asks you to give up your hard-earned money for a quest that is so far away from success, ask the representative on the line what they are planning to do to increase their delegate recruitment rate. Ask them to be specific. What do you think you’ll hear?