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PCCC delivers a credible political threat to Obama

Huffpo carried an article, today, called Progressive Change Campaign Committee Threatens To Pull Obama Support Ahead Of 2012

Sroka said the 200,000 people represent more than $17 million in donations to Obama’s campaign in 2008 and about 2.6 million volunteer hours.

I recently posted PCCC ( does something right – Part 2, where I wrote:

There are 2 ways to look at this. (I make lots of assumptions in the following, so don’t get hung up on the numbers.)

The first is as a straight economic loss of contributions to the Obama campaign. Assuming the 200,000 signers would have donated an average of $75, that is only $15,000,000, which is about 1.5% of the campaign’s anticipated billion dollar price tag.

The second is as an adjusted economic loss to the Obama campaign, due to the loss of high quality volunteers. Now, here, I have no real data, so please continue pardon the guessing. There are almost 200,000 signers of the petition. Let’s assume that they would have donated 20 hours, each, and we value their labor at $10/hr. That amounts to $40,000,000. The Obama campaign is expected to spend about a billion dollars, so dollar wise, on a percentage basis (4%), this is still not a big loss.

However, paying people to knock on doors and make phone calls for Obama can’t possible be as effective as having real enthusiasts perform the same tasks. Let’s assume that the Obama campaign budgeted 70% of it’s expected pot for TV ads, and 20% for what I’ll call ‘person-to-person’ outreach. I’ll make another assumption here (frankly, one that I’m not at all certain of). And that is that for each dollar of free volunteer labor, a campaign needs to spend 1$ on supporting that volunteer labor.

Thus, on a straight dollar basis, a withdrawal by PCCC volunteers is going to amount to about 4%/((2*20%)+4%), or about 9% of the cost basis for such outreach. However, it’s tough to fake enthusiasm and earnestness. Consequently, I will rate an hour of a PCCC volunteer equal with 3 hours of a paid-for “volunteer”, who has to take their place. Consequently, the real economic hit to the Obama campaign is more like the equivalent of 3×9% = 27% of their total budget, which exceeds my guesstimate for the entire “person-to-person” budget. And that, I believe, is enough to make Obama lose a state or two. In a sour economy, when incumbency becomes a predictor of loss, carrying out the PCCC’s threat could well cost Obama his re-election. I consider this a real threat.

Metamars is pleased to announce that 2 of his guesstimates were fairly accurate. I guesstimated $15 million hit in contributions, vs. $17 million. I was more off on my guesstimate of PCCC volunteer hours. I had guesstimated 200,000 x 20, or 4 million hours. PCCC reports 2.6 million.

The loss of money to a billion dollar campaign is trivial, but the loss of 4 million hours – and possibly even just 2.6 million hours – could make Obama lose the election. This is basically a guess.

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