What I’ve Been Up to..

Updates, Work

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Hopefully, given that my last post announced the birth of my baby girl, anyone reading this blog can appreciate the reason I have no been diligent about updating! Maddie turned six months on Christmas Eve and at her doctor’s appointment a week later clocked in at 14lb. 7oz. and 26 inches long. It has been amazing to watch her grow and develop. My tiny little peanut has grown into an awesome, fun baby girl with so much personality. She will giggle up a storm for absolutely no reason. She’s learned how to army crawl to get what she wants (usually my cell phone!) and I’m sure crawling isn’t too far off. She loves standing holding onto things, whether it’s the side of the changing table or my hands. When we go to storytime at the library or music class, she watches with such wonder. I sincerely hope she never loses her amazement with the world and her joy in discovering new things. It is such a pleasure to watch her learn and grow.

Being a mommy has definitely given me a new perspective on the struggles of working mothers. As a freelancer, finding the time to get work done in between all the diaper changes, feedings and naptime battles has been a challenge. In a post on InPower Women, I wrote about how I didn’t have a maternity leave because FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, doesn’t apply to freelancers.

In my postpartum period, I finished up a project that I started while pregnant. At 7.5 months pregnant, I produced three videos for the website BabyCenter.com touring the maternity ward, operating room and birth center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. It was a really awesome experience and definitely gave me an inside look at what I could expect for my own birth experience. I was really proud of how the videos turned out from an idea when I was suffering from morning sickness and spending way too much time on the BabyCenter website to finally seeing the videos posted online. But finding the time to finish the videos while taking care of Maddie was definitely a challenge!

I also somehow managed to read What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? and post a review on InPower Women to coincide with election day. I was pretty proud of that post, which talked about some of the reasons we haven’t had a woman president yet. Many people have high hopes for Hilary in 2016. Just throwing this out there, but Maddie will be eligible to run for president in 2048…

One of my main goals for 2014 is to get more of my writing published in more places (and get paid for it!). I’ve always been interested in writing about women and politics, but every time Maddie does something new, I think of another possible article to write about babies and parenting.

Here’s hoping for another big year!

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Is it Finally Time for the Equal Rights Amendment?

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official-blogger-2My latest post is up at InPowerWomen.com, but I’m pretty excited about how it turned out, so I’m going to add it here in its entirety. I’ve been posting over there about women, politics and media and was asked to contribute something for Women’s History Month. I hate to be the downer on the site, but considering how often Women’s History Month articles and events are very much about the successes of women, I thought it’d be beneficial to take a look at a time where things didn’t go so well.

Would love to hear your feedback, either here or on the InPower Women site.

The first Women’s History Week was observed in March of 1982. Just a few months later, one of the biggest disappointments of the women’s movement occurred as the Equal Rights Amendment expired when the ratification deadline came and went at the end of June. This Women’s History Month, after an election year where women’s issues were in the forefront and after the Violence Against Women Act finally passed after a long and hard fought battle, it seems appropriate to ask, do we still need an Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution?

FROM AN IDEA, TO A MOVEMENT

The ERA was originated by the National Woman’s Party in 1923 to complement the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920. The ERA was introduced in Congress officially in 1923 as the following:

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.

The amendment was re-introduced and failed in every Congress until a reworded version finally passed both chambers in 1972. The final text reads:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

It was then turned over to states for ratification with a seven year deadline. After passage in Congress, the ERA needed to be ratified in 38 states. It only passed in 35. The deadline was extended until June 30, 1982, but ultimately failed to be ratified.

THE QUEST FOR EQUALITY

The ERA was supposed to fill the gap left by the so-called Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Though the 14th protected “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” it was adopted following the Civil War with racial discrimination in mind. And while numerous cases came before the Supreme Court seeking equal protection for women, women routinely lost up through the 1960s.

Women were told they had no constitutional right to practice law (Bradwell v. Illinois in 1873), vote (Minor v. Happersett in 1874), act as a bartender without her husband or father owning the establishment (Goesaert v. Cleary in 1948) or face a jury of her peers (Hoyt v. Florida in 1961), among others. Most of these decisions were rationalized that women were the “fairer or weaker sex” that needed protecting, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in 1979.

In 1971, things started to turn around. In Reed v. Reed, the court held unanimously that an Idaho law giving preferential treatment to men over women in estate administration appointments was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. Other cases began to follow suit.

IS THE ERA STILL NECESSARY?

Whenever discussions about the need for the Equal Rights Amendment come up, my mind immediately goes to this clip from “The West Wing” of Republican Ainsley Hayes discussing her opposition. And Ainsley makes some good points about being protected by the 14th Amendment. There are also plenty of laws on the books like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. Most recently, the ban against women in combat roles, which the ERA would have ended, has been lifted by the military. There’s still more work to be done, but given all the steps in the right direction, do we still need an Equal Rights Amendment?

In my opinion, sort of. In our current climate, I find it’s more imperative than ever to make it clear that women are entitled to the same protection as men under the United States Constitution, for two very specific reasons. First, we hear about new laws on a regular basis seeking to place limits on the right to privacy granted to women under the Equal Protection Clause in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade. That right to privacy is being chiseled away in states that now require an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasounds in order to obtain a legally protected abortion. If this right can be taken away, should women be worried about all their other rights as well?

But more importantly, we need to make clear that the Constitution applies to us all because there are justices on the current Supreme Court who believe in interpreting the Constitution based on the original intent of the framers. And the original intent of the 14th Amendment was not to protect women. In an interview in 2011, Justice Antonin Scalia said this about equal protection in the Constitution:

“You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”

Scalia suggests that legislation is sufficient to outlaw sexual discrimination. But with justices like him on the court, what are the chances a law like that would be upheld as constitutional? I don’t like those odds.

So, why do I say sort of? Well, because women aren’t the only group out there in need of constitutional protection. The current session of the Supreme Court will be hearing challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8. Does the Constitution grant equal protection on the basis of sexual orientation? It certainly wasn’t what the original drafters of the 14th Amendment had in mind. And yet, the same 14th Amendment that may not cover women or homosexuals, does cover corporations, according to numerous cases decided by the court. So, where exactly is the line drawn?

Instead of fighting for an Equal Right Amendment just for women, let’s close all the loopholes. Let’s establish once and for all that if you’re a human being born or naturalized in this country, you’re a citizen. And that citizenship comes with all the rights and privileges outlined in the Constitution.

What about you? Do you think there’s still a need for the Equal Rights Amendment?

Will a Record Number of Women in Congress Make a Difference?

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Check out my latest post for InPower Women!

With the Inauguration in the rear view mirror, it’s officially time for the 113th Congress and President Obama to get back to work. Women were big winners in the November elections and the current Congress set a new record for female members when officially sworn in earlier this month. That’s the good news. The bad news is that new records means that female representation in Congress jumped from a high of 17% to a new high of 18%.

But it sounds more depressing than it really is, as these infographics from Mother Jones indicate. Some fast facts:

  • 1 in 3 newly elected members is a woman
  • 184 women ran for Congress in 2012 and nearly half were elected
  • The state of New Hampshire will be sending an entirely female delegation to Washington with a female Governor at home
  • Four states are sending their first female Senators; Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Wisconsin

And let’s not forget that there are now 20 women serving in the Senate, up from 17 in the 112th Congress.

Read the rest at InPowerWomen.com!

Why I’m Terrible at Updating My Blog

Extracurricular, Updates, Work

It was a very busy and productive fall, but I haven’t been able to post any updates lately because of computer issues. Did you know WordPress has a mobile app? Did you also know that typing blog posts on your phone is very time consuming?

Fingers crossed, I’ll be back on my computer soon, but until then, a promise. In the next few weeks I will:

1. Update about working with Google at the conventions. With pictures!
2. Update about the Google+ hangouts with ABC News on election day and tracking down voters from all 50 states!
3. Write about my trip to Vegas! Including a jaunt to the Grand Canyon!
4. Talk about volunteering with the New York Women in Communication on their awesome student conference.
5. Finally write about the election. There are 20 women in the Senate!!!
6. Updates on some exciting projects to come, including a big collaboration with my amazing husband.

Until then, some pictures!

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The Google set at the RNC in Tampa

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Chelsea Clinton touring the RNC Google space

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One of the amazing tigers at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa (and one of the aforementioned projects)

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The Google space at the DNC in Charlotte

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The Bellagio Fountain in Vegas

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Self-portrait at the Grand Canyon

More to come!

Heading to Tampa…

Updates, Work

In five hours, my wonderful husband, Paul, will be driving me to the airport to board a JetBlue flight to Tampa for the Republican National Convention. The big news that I mentioned in my last blog post is that I am working with Google and YouTube on their convention coverage! I’ve been working as a booker and associate producer, liaising with media partners and helping them book guests for their hangouts on air. I’ll be heading to Charlotte next week for the Democratic National Convention.

Hopefully, my experience with the RNC will be slightly different from my experience in 2004.

Women as Candidates, Women as Symbols

Extracurricular

I stole the title for this post from a recent event at the New America Foundation. If you haven’t been to their site or attended one of their event, I highly recommend. Not only are the topics incredibly thought-provoking (see: The Reoccurring Theme of Entitlement), but their panelists are terrific.

The most recent event I attended was their panel on Women as Candidates, Women as Symbols. The panel was moderated by Rebecca Traister, of Salon.com. While the event touched on a number of different issues about women in politics (and women as politics), the idea of women as candidates was an ongoing theme throughout the discussion. The panel was well-timed, too, happening shortly after the publication of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” in The Atlantic. The idea of women in high-powered positions was on everyone’s mind.

Again, the theme of entitlement came up as part of the conversation on why, when women represent 51% of the population in the U.S., the account for only 17% of Congress. GOOD put together the infographic to the right showing what Congress looks like now and what Congress would look like if it truly reflected the demographic breakdown. This is from 2011, so the numbers may not reflect the special election updates, but it’s a big majority of men. And a big majority of whites.

And a big part of that is not just that men feel more entitled to run for office, but that women feel under qualified and are under recruited. Michelle Goldberg, writer with Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and Jen Bluestein, from EMILY’s List, both mentioned the research of Jennifer Lawless during the panel. Studies have shown that when women run for office, they win at the same rate as men. One of the best known was conducted by the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1994 found that sex has less to do with the outcomes of an election than incumbency. And when women run for open seats, they are just as likely to win as a man. But they can’t win if they don’t run.

Lawless, along with her colleague Richard Fox, have researched why women don’t run for office. Their most recent paper, “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics” highlights seven key factors in why women don’t run:

1. Women are substantially more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates.

2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena.

3. Women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office.

4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident, and more risk averse than their male counterparts.

5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns.

6. Women are less likely than men to receive the suggestion to run for office – from anyone.

7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks.

It’s a lot to tackle and Lawless and Fox do a great job of breaking their data. I highly recommend reading their analysis. There were so many great graphs to choose from, but the recruitment gap was particularly striking. Women are significantly less likely to be encouraged to run for office by political and non-political actors compared to men. Lawless and Fox surveyed men and women in positions that generally lead into political office; business leaders, lawyers, educators and political activists. Men were more likely to be recruited at all levels of government. 21% of men who responded said they’d been recruited for a local school board election, while only 18% of women had been recruited in similar ways. Get further up the government ladder, to statewide or federal offices, and the gap widens. Only 16% of the women surveyed had been recruited for state legislatures, while 24% of men had. And while 10% of men were recruited to serve in the House of Representatives, only 4% of the pool of highly qualified professional women were approached for the same job.

And recruitment is important, because even when specifically selected to participate in a survey because of their perceived qualification, women are statistically less likely to see themselves as qualified to run for office. One particularly amusing statistic from this study mentioned by Bluestein was that even among the men who did not think they were qualified to run for public office, “55% have given the notion of a candidacy some thought.” Again, that sense of entitlement.

While writing this, I mentioned the statistic above to my husband who suggested that perhaps it’s because young men grow up being told that they can be anything, even president. But while girls are told that they can have it all, family and a career, the reality doesn’t exactly measure up.

Closing the gender gap is about more than just increasing diversity in politics. It’s about issues that directly affect women being discussed and voted on by predominantly male politicians. Bluestein commented at the panel that “the safest time to be a women is when Congress is on recess.” She also mentioned that there has only been one day in this Congress where there have been no debates on “truly anti-women legislation.” I haven’t been able to find verification of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It seems nearly every bill up for debate has some sort of anti-abortion or anti-contraception amendment added. Recently, Senator Rand Paul stalled a vote on flood insurance — yes, flood insurance — in order to get his amendment on fetal personhood debated.

Sandra Fluke, who says she didn’t intend to become a combatant for women’s issues, made the point that the Republicans in Congress have managed to divorce many of these issues that directly affect women from women. Paycheck fairness becomes about tort reform. The Violence Against Women Act, which has been reauthorized and expanded twice since it was first enacted in 1994, has turned into a fight against gay people, even if the coverage is just as needed in the gay community as it is for straight women. And contraception and abortion are repeatedly turned into religious freedom arguments, despite the fact that different religions have different beliefs about abortion. (And, incidentally, the clip linked, of Michigan state Representative Lisa Brown, became a debate about the use of the word vagina, rather than abortion.)

But it’s also about more than just the issues that are being debated. It’s also about how things get done (or, in this Congress, don’t get done) and how successful the ultimate outcomes are. We can look at the business world for reference of how important it is to have women represented in positions of power. In 2012, only 18 companies in the Fortune 500 were led by women, the most ever. There has been a lot of discussion on why there aren’t more women leading companies or sitting on boards of directors, but there has been just as much research into how having women in leadership positions can affect a company. And the effect can be significant. InPower Women has put together an impressive collection of studies and research on women, leadership and business. For example, one study by Catalyst 2011 found:

Despite a rough economic period, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women in board positions created a competitive advantage over companies with no women on their boards in the following three areas:

  • Return on Sales: 84% advantage
  • Return on Invested Capital: 60% advantage
  • Return on Equity: 46% advantage

This study was conducted on financial results of 524 public companies, which demonstrated a sustained commitment to women in leadership, as measured by the presence of women on their boards for four of the five years analyzed. Previous studies in the series have also found a connection between gender diversity on corporate boards and financial performance.

Another really interesting study in the Harvard Business Review looked at collective intelligence and the number of women in groups. The graph below kind of speaks for itself.

Reading into the study a bit though, I found another key point from Anita Woolley, part of the team that conducted the research. She commented that social sensitivity is important in group performance and women tend to score higher on tests of social sensitivity than men. Having more women in groups leads to more listening, more constructive criticism and more open minds. Having more women in the political arena could lead to the same results, but rather than affecting a group or a business, women could affect change in their communities and the nation.

Looking at countless studies about the benefits of diversity, both gender and cultural, it’s hard to believe that more women aren’t inclined to run and more women aren’t recruited to run. But perhaps looking back at the second key point from the Lawless/Fox study, that the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin “aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena,” can answer more questions about why women aren’t more inclined to run for office. So much of the coverage focused on the fact that they were both women, rather than their qualifications (or lack thereof). Consider how frequently the press on Clinton mentioned her pantsuits or her laugh. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s legs were a constant topic of conversation.

In an article late last year, Christina Bellantoni wrote about Michele Bachmann’s primary run. Bellantoni highlighted the ways in which Bachmann’s campaign differed from Clinton’s or Palin’s. While Clinton downplayed her role as a mother, keeping Chelsea largely out of sight except for a limited number of tightly controlled events, Palin paraded her children out on the campaign trail. Bachmann spoke about her role as a mother to emphasize her strengths as a woman and as a candidate. In some ways, Bachmann’s campaign was particularly unique because a significant proportion of her press coverage focused on her extreme views and the crazy statements she’s made during her time in office and on the campaign trail, rather than the fact that she was a woman. Not to say there wasn’t sexist coverage, though perhaps it was a bit more subtle. For example, a great deal of attention was paid to her severe migraines. Replace migraines with PMS and we’ve heard this story before. Also, as Michelle Goldberg pointed out on the panel, Bachmann’s views weren’t that much more preposterous than Rick Santorum’s and he came close to nabbing the nomination.

In November, women will not be sitting this election out. More than 223 women are still in the running for Congress. If half of those women win, Congress will be nearly 21% women, a four-point gain. There are still a number of primaries to come, so the number of women on the ballot in November is certain to shrink, but we could see an unprecedented number of women running. Will we start seeing headlines about 2012 being “The Year of the Woman” like we did in 1992 or 2008? Unfortunately, it’s already underway here (and here and here).

While it’s encouraging to see coverage of the important issue of gender disparity in politics, most of the coverage sets an impossibly high standard for women. Not all the women running for office will win (especially since women are running against women in some races) and if women are just as likely as men to win elections, they’re also just as likely to lose. While we’re almost certain (I hope!) to see an uptick in the number of women serving in Congress, we’re still not getting anywhere close to equal representation. When that happens, write all the “Year of the Women” headlines you want. I’ll just be happy to see it happen.

#Occupy Tax Day

Extracurricular

Last week, Paul and I went to an Occupy Wall Street working group about getting money out of politics. Paul’s been involved with the movement to end corporate personhood for a while and he’s done quite a bit of work on the constitutional amendments floating around. He’s even written an amendment of his own. I’ve been working on an ongoing research project about the movement for my research for media activism class, so I went as an observer.

The meeting itself was incredibly fascinating from a research perspective. There are so many different ideas being tossed around about getting money out of politics. Some people at the meeting want to pass a constitutional amendment ending corporate personhood. Some are 100% behind purely publicly financed elections. And there were the radical opinions about the constitutionality of income taxes.

The takeaway from the meeting was really that there is a lot of anger and frustration about the amount of money in politics, but there is little agreement on what to do. There was, however, one thing on the agenda and that was a tax day rally in front of the main post office in New York City. The event was supposed to be about the corporate tax rate compared to individual tax rates. With so many people heading into the post office to mail their tax returns off to the IRS, it seemed like a great way to build support for the movement.

So, I went over to the James Farley Post Office this afternoon to check things out. Turns out there were two different rallies going on, both Occupy, but with different aims. The first, which was held right in front of the post office, was protesting the use of tax dollars to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra marched to the post office along with Occupiers and they sang and chanted about tax day. My favorite refrain was, “How do you fix the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!” Catchy, right?

I was surprised by this protest though, because I was expecting something different. At the Occupy working group, they had said the rally would be about the corporate tax rate, but besides a handful of signs, I didn’t see much focus on that issue. I was also surprised by the number of people there. I thought the event was going to be larger. There were plenty of cops on sight and one even said they were expecting between 500 and 2,500 protesters to show up. After hearing the same songs and chants a few times, I decided to pack it in, but as I walked down Eighth Avenue, I stumbled upon the other rally.

A block away, a lot more people had gathered and they were definitely making noise. This rally had organized speakers, many of whom spoke about the tax rates that corporation pay. And they had the Tax Dodgers! They were a bunch of guys wearing baseball uniforms that said “Tax Dodger” on the front and “1%” on the back. Along with a couple of cheerleaders, they sang about how corporations take advantage of loopholes. They even gave away free money! Sure, it was only a penny each, but that’s 100% genuine American currency.

I only had my camera phone with me, but I took a few pictures of the event. Enjoy!

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Money in Politics Survey Analysis

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So, thanks again to everyone who took the survey! Your responses really helped and the data was really interesting. You can see the raw data in my previous post, but I wanted to parse a few of the questions further. Of my 52 respondents, only one describe their political leanings as right. So, for the purposes of my analysis, I chose to ignore that one respondent. Sorry to whoever that was! I did appreciate your contribution! Unfortunately, without more responses from that side of the aisle, it was impossible to draw any conclusions with a sample size of one.

That said, there were a few responses in my money in politics survey that really took me by surprise. This is the breakdown of how the (now) 51 respondents reported their political leanings:

And when it came to campaign finance reform, most answered that it was a very important issue to them:

Respondents generally agreed that there is too much money being spent on political campaigns,

that there should be limits on the amount of money spent on political campaigns,

and that money can corrupt political campaigns.

And yet, the majority of respondents were pretty wishy-washy about the idea of publicly financed elections:

This was probably the most interesting piece of data in the entire survey. Purely publicly financed elections are a frequently floated idea to limit the amount of money spent on political campaigns. Proponents of public financing say it will even the playing field and limit the influence of private corporations and individuals on candidates. But even though a majority did respond that they agreed with the statement to a degree, nearly half were on the fence.

A few more interesting bits of data. When asked how familiar they were with the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the majority of respondents said they knew about the decision:

And a vast majority were not fans of the Super PAC:

Incidentally, the one respondent that identified as right said that Super PACs have had a positive effect on our electoral process. Again, that respondent is not included in the data above.

So, what does it all mean?

All semester long I’ve been focusing on the movement to respond to Citizens United by abolishing corporate personhood through a constitutional amendment. In conducting this survey, my goal was to gain insight on how people felt about money in politics in general. With this data, I hoped to gain a better idea of how to prepare targeted arguments in this debate.

One of the main problems with political activism is that there are so many issues to get fired up about; women’s reproductive rights, taxes, entitlements, corporate subsidies, environmental issues, etc. Along with Social Security, campaign finance reform has long been a third rail of electoral process. After all, it’s hard to get political candidates on board with changing the way campaigns are financed as they are trying to finance a campaign. In order to move forward on this issue, it will take a groundswell of support from the general population. And this data, though limited, could help activists understand how to steer the debate in order to gain support.

People do care about campaign finance reform, but as I mentioned before, public financing is probably not the road to take in order to gain support for this movement. I recently observed an Occupy Wall Street working group about getting money out of politics. While the group formed around the idea of responding to Citizens United, there was no real agreement on how that should be done. One member of the group insisted that the only way to solve the problem was to have purely publicly financed elections. Based on my data, I don’t think he will get the support he’s hoping if that’s where he’s focusing his argument.

I think the main takeaways from the data is that people are angry and frustrated about the amount of money in politics. And that’s where to start in order to gain support. If you draw people into the debate by talking about the negative effects of money in politics and the influence of Super PACs, then people will be more likely to get fired up about the rest of the movement’s goals.

In retrospect, I do wish I had included a few more questions about the corporate personhood movement and specifically, parsing the specifics of the Citizens United decision. While a majority of people said they were familiar with the decision, I wonder if they really understand what the ruling actually meant. From my other questions, I got the sense that people understood that the decision has lead to an influx of money in our campaigns from corporations, however, I don’t know if people really understand that the decision definitively afforded corporations personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment, said corporations had the First Amendment right to free speech and determined that the spending of money is a protected form of speech. Part of the reason I chose not to include specific questions about the Citizens United decision was that I couldn’t figure out a way to ask those questions without specifically biasing the answer. I did ask one specific question about the decision, whether spending money should be treated as a protected expression of speech:

Clearly, respondents disagreed with the statement, but this data gives me no indication as to whether people know that the Supreme Court has already made a decision on this issue. Which is the primary reasons there is a movement to overturn the decision through a constitutional amendment to begin with.

And the other regret is that I didn’t get more responses from the right. I posted my survey on Facebook and Twitter and my husband, who is involved in the movement, posted the survey on a couple websites he frequents about the issue. Based on the locations of my respondents, though, it’s a pretty clear that most  responses were from my friends, my family and my family friends living in New York and Connecticut. I only received one response from a red state, Texas. And, incidentally, the only respondent who identified as right was from Massachusetts. I did tweet the survey with the hashtags #GOP and #tcot a few times to see if I could get any responses, but none of those efforts lead to any survey takers.

Overall, I found process designing and implementing a survey to be challenging and surprisingly enjoyable. I found myself checking the responses every few minutes to see if anyone new had taken the survey. I especially enjoyed the open-ended questions. The data was nearly impossible to quantify, but some of the responses were a hoot. I do not envy organizations like Gallup or PPP who do this on a daily basis, but it did make me wonder whether the national pollsters that make headlines regularly put as much thought into the wording of their questions as I did.

Money in Politics Survey Results

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Well, the survey was live for just under a week and I managed to collect 52 responses. I definitely would have like to get more, but since I only needed twenty, I’m pretty pleased with the final results. I conducted my survey with Google Docs and they provide great visualization tools. Below are the results. Thanks to everyone who took the survey! I really appreciate the help!

Other Responses:
None/Public Financed Only – 8
Tax Filers – 1
Everyone, with Limits – 3
How would you define a Super PAC? (This got a lot of great answers. Not all of the answers were exactly right, but most had the gist of it. Some of my favorite responses are below.)
  1. Runaway money train.
  2. a clever way to circumvent the intent of campaign finance laws (snark).  they can run ads, but they can’t give the money to the campaigns or parties.  however, when the your top advisers are RUNNING your Super PAC, the line between the two evaporates.
  3. A ridiculous electoral loophole.
  4. A scam.
  5. Monstrously evil.
  6. a good way to influence elections using money from mysterious sources.
  7. A veil behind which plutocrats hide.
  8. Lawyer-created gimmick to allow a person to receive massive funding under the illusion that he has no connection or communication with those funding him.
  9. bad
  10. A legal mechanism for corruption and the production and dissemination of political propaganda
  11. “Greed protecting greed”
Demographics:
 
Location:
Connecticut – 18
New York – 13
California – 5
Washington – 2
Pennsylvania – 2
Washington DC – 2
Maryland – 2
Rhode Island – 1
Minnesota – 1
Massachusetts – 1
Texas – 1
Illinois – 1
New Jersey – 1
Virginia – 1
Oregon – 1
I’m going to be writing up an analysis of my results in the next week and will post that as well. Thanks again for everyone who participated! And anyone who didn’t, you can still take the survey here. I’m no longer collecting data for my class, but I’m still interested in hearing from more people. I think they’re important questions with serious implications for our political process.

Money in Politics Survey

School

My last semester of graduate school is coming swiftly to an end. It’s amazing how quickly this semester has gone by. Three years of graduate school have crawled at times and I’m glad to be finishing up. I think I’ve gained a lot of great knowledge and skills from the New School and I’m definitely glad I decided to get my MA. I think I am a better journalist, a better producer and better researcher because of the media studies program.

And speaking of research.. My last assignment before my final in my research for media activism class is to conduct a survey on my topic. I was surprised by how difficult writing a survey is. Finding nuanced questions that don’t emphasize one answer or another was trickier than expected. I think it’s easy to look at a bad survey and pinpoint why it’s bad, but writing an even-keeled survey does take some skill. Hopefully, what I ended up with will help gather information without pushing people towards one viewpoint or another. The real goal is to get a sense of how people feel about money in politics, not to change minds. With the answers to these questions, I could develop a more targeted media strategy, if I want to pursue this topic in the future as a media activism project. That’s definitely still up in the air, but in the meantime, I would appreciate if everyone answered a few questions. I’ve, supposedly, embedded the survey below, but it seems some browsers have trouble with embedded Google forms. If you can’t see the survey below, click over to the Google documents page here. Thank you for your help!