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Obama and His Base: How's He Doing?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 13 2010

If you're like me and you're on President Obama's Organizing for America e-mail list, you've probably noticed a marked increase in the number of messages piling up into your in-box in the last few weeks. "Watch the President Tonight," says Jeremy Bird. "Bronx house party with the President." "Philadelphia rally with the president." "Micah, I need you in the game," says Barack Obama.

Obviously with this fall's congressional elections looking like a tipping point in the Obama presidency, it's no surprise that OFA is pulling out all the stops. The question is whether they are having success in closing the enthusiasm gap. A few clues can be gleaned from the online data trail their efforts are generating:

1. As of today, OFA's website is listing 532 phone-banking and GOTV events across 49 states (nope, I didn't see Alaska listed).

That may seem like a decent number, but consider that a year ago when OFA was helping rev up the base around supporting health care reform, the number of listed events was nearly 700. The Obama grassroots seem a tad barren, at least when it comes to rallying people to vote for Democrats this fall.

2. On the other hand, Obama continues to amass a commanding lead in social media followers. On Facebook, he has a whopping 14.5 million fans--that's up nearly 50% from July, when he broke the 10 million mark. Even if you use the more stringent test of the number of people who list Obama as one of their interests on their personal Facebook page, his numbers have risen from 2,567,920 in late July to 2,967,180 today. (Interestingly, Sarah Palin's organic base on Facebook has dropped slightly during that same period, from 1,493,060 then to 1,435,560 today.)

3. On YouTube, the enthusiasm gap is as plain as day. The BarackObama channel has been averaging about 750,000 views per month, a huge drop from the 2008 election and the early days of Obama's administration, as this chart from TubeMogul shows:

And while back in the day, Obama could command a half million or so views outlining his plans for building OFA, today his fall campaign pep rally has only a little more than 50,000 views.

The viewer numbers on this October 1 video, entitled "What Enthusiasm Gap?" undermine its own intentions. Just 14,589 as of today.