Editor’s note: Dr. Dawg has asked to make the following guest post here at Irregular Times, and we’re glad to oblige. — Jim Cook
Americans Elect: The ‘Little Big Man’ of Astroturf?
by Dr. Dawg
As every online marketer knows, registering lots of web site users is one thing, but getting and keeping them engaged in the site’s community of users is quite another. The ability of a web-based property to attract, retain and engage users beyond the initial visit is referred to as its ‘stickiness’.
How sticky is Americans Elect (AE), the secretive corporation bankrolled and organized by junk-bond billionaire Peter Ackerman to conduct an ostensibly ‘grassroots’ online nomination process for a ‘centrist’ third-party presidential ticket in 2012?
According to our confidential source within AE, as of this week Americans Elect has registered a total of just over 125,900 members via its web site (a number in keeping with AE’s own September 1 tweet announcing it had just topped 100,000 members — http://twitter.com/#!/AmericansElect/status/109329039004667904).
It is interesting and informative to compare these numbers with other data regarding Americans Elect to glean the first quantitative view of Americans Elect Corporation’s true impact to date:
* According to its forum web site (hosted by Get Satisfaction), 2,913 AE members are registered users of the AE forum, which is the only mechanism available for AE members to freely discuss among themselves the organization and the issues at length. That is to say, since its founding, just 2.3% of AE members have been sufficiently engaged to move on to participate, even minimally, in the membership’s debates. This historical conversion rate, dating back to AE’s founding, has held reasonably constant of late even in the face of AE’s recently much-increased advertising and slick web site design expenditures: since we began tracking AE’s vital statistics in early September of this year its rate of new forum participant growth has equaled 2.7% of AE’s membership growth over the same period — no significant change from the overall rate since its founding. AE’s active membership, as reflected by this forum participant metric, is about equal to the number of fans in the home stand at a middling-sized high school football game on a Friday night.
* As of this week, AE’s web site reports that its signature drive to petition for ballot access in all 50 states has collected 1,874,714 signatures (in an effort managed by the notorious D.C. hired guns, Arno Political Consultants). Given that AE has only 125,900 members, that means that at least 93% of those petition signers…and probably an even higher percentage…are not AE members, but rather just people accosted at random outside WallyWorld by Arno Political Consultants’ minions.
* Also as of this week, the AE web site touts a total of 6,740,190 questions answered in its “True Colors” online survey of its members’ opinions on the policy issues of the day. That means that the average AE member answers 54 of the survey’s 300 questions before losing interest and moving on — an 18% completion rate.
With its modest membership roll of just 125,900 (equaling 0.05% of the U.S. voting age population in 2010), its microscopic ‘base’ of 2,913 active members, its failure to convert casual petition signers into new members, and its disappointing 18% completion rate for the True Colors survey, Americans Elect Corporation must be something of a disappointment, in terms of return on investment, for founding father Peter Ackerman. Ackerman’s $1.5 million bankrolling of Americans Elect (that we know of, prior to the organization’s change in status in 2010 to a 501(c)(4) corporation exempt from donor reporting requirements) works out to a cost of about $515 per active member.
[About the author: Dr. Dawg, a retired technology entrepreneur, has been a student of political co-optation best practices since getting his head cracked open in 1969 anti-war demonstrations. He is an accidental 1%er who strives to employ his unwarranted blessings for good, not evil. His dog, Old Gus, is an avid fan of Willie Nelson.]