Supporters of Demand Question Time are a very politically active, passionate, liberal-leaning group that is ready to push Washington in all kinds of creative ways to get the President and both parties talking to each other in a direct way. Those are the takeaways of the survey we did last week of the first 17,500 people to sign the Demand Question Time petition. Frankly, I’ve been blown away by how many people took the time to not only take the survey–2,338 responses and counting, a whopping 13.3% response rate–but also by the comments and suggestions people gave us. Not only have there been more than 100 comments here on the blog, we got well over 2,000 written responses to our questions about why people were supporting Question Time.
In the interests of transparency, I’m pasting in the full survey report below (sans the written responses, which we’re still digesting). But here are the two major conclusions I think we should focus on:
First, our little movement has some real muscle. Not only do we have the ability to get media attention for the Question Time idea, we have thousands of people who are ready to call their Members of Congress, write letters to the editor, get on the phone with supporters from a different political party to jointly call their elected representatives, and so on. That’s a real vote of confidence in what we’re doing and we’re going to follow up soon with some calls to action along those lines. When asked what actions people were willing to take, the responses broke down as follows:
Call my representatives in Congress to ask them if they support Question Time: 72.71%
Write a letter to the editor: 46.27%
Get on the phone with another Question Time supporter from a different party than my own and then call our representatives together: 24.28%
Donate money to pay for advertising: 20.66%
Help spread the word by tabling or sign-holding/waving/posting: 19.04%
Make an online video: 6.33%
The second obvious highlight of the survey, and one that frankly surprised some of us on the steering committee, is how much the survey responses tilt towards the left. Asked what political party “you identify with,” respondents said:
None of the above: 5.12%
I’d rather not say: 1.38%
Some of us think this could be just because the petition got early attention from the Huffington Post, MSNBC and NPR, all outlets with a liberal-leaning audience. Others think it may be because liberals supposedly prefer “kumbaya”-why-can’t-we-all-get-along politics more than conservatives. And others think it’s because conservatives may feel that the original, spontaneous Question Time session between President Obama and the House Republican caucus helped Obama more than the Republicans, and therefore are wary of making the encounter a regular event.
We don’t know whether any of these conclusions are right (and certainly don’t mind you adding your two cents to the discussion), but whatever the reasons, we’re convinced that Question Time won’t succeed as a movement unless it flies with two wings, equally balanced. That’s why our steering committee and core group of signers is evenly divided between right and left (with a smattering of uncategorizables). So, here’s what we hope you will do:
If you have a friend, a relative, a co-worker who is a Republican or a conservative or a rightwinger of any stripe, ask them to sign the Demand Question Time petition. Liberals, get in touch with that uncle who you usually never talk to at Thanksgiving. Conservatives, talk to your pals. Let’s grow our base of support so we’re balanced. If we want the President and the opposing party to engage in regular dialogue, we have to do it too.
The full survey is below. My apologies for the messy formatting.
1. How old are you?
65 and up 11.15%
Under 18 0.99%
I’d rather not say 0.21%
2. If you identify with a political party, are you:
None of the above 5.12%
I’d rather not say 1.38%
3. Check which political labels describe you best (you may choose more than one):
tea party 1.93%
I’d rather not say 0.69%
4. Are you registered to vote?
I’d rather not say 0.48%
Don’t know 0.22%
5. Did you vote in the 2008 election?
I’d rather not say 0.43%
6. Are you planning to vote in the 2010 election?
Don’t know 4.09%
I’d rather not say 0.34%
7. Which, if any, of the following activities are you interested in taking in support of Question Time? (Check as many as apply.)
Call my representatives in Congress to ask them if they support Question Time 72.71%
Write a letter to the editor 46.27%
Get on the phone with another Question Time supporter from a different party than my own and then call our representatives together 24.28%
Donate money to pay for advertising 20.66%
Help spread the word by tabling or sign-holding/waving/posting 19.04%
Make an online video 6.33%