Out of Touch

Americans don’t care about the issues on OFA’s target list

• May 31, 2013 12:00 pm


The stated priorities of President Barack Obama’s shadowy activist group, Organizing for Action (OFA), are not the issues most Americans care about, according to numerous polls ranking the country’s political priorities.

OFA executive director Jon Carson told supporters in a Thursday email that the "big issues we care about" are "gun safety, climate change, marriage equality, immigration reform, and more."

The group’s emphasis on the four issues specifically mentioned suggest its agenda is out of step with mainstream America, according to Logan Dobson, a pollster with the Tarrance Group.

"Every single poll that comes out that features a ‘most important’ issue question tells us the exact same thing: Voters care about the economy," Dobson told the Washington Free Beacon in an email.

"The types of issues OFA is saying are the ‘big issues they care about’ rarely exceed 10 percent in the polls, and even then in moments when they dominate the news cycle," Dobson noted.

A May Gallup poll listed "gun violence" and "immigration" as the 11th and 12th – out of 12 – most important issues to Americans surveyed. Global warming and gay marriage were not listed.

A Pew Research Center poll the month before put addressing global warming dead last in a list of 18 political priorities. Immigration and gun control came in at 14 and 15, respectively. Gay marriage did not make the list.

A Washington Post-ABC survey in January asked about eight issues. Respondents ranked immigration and global warming as the two least important issues facing the country.

Gun control came in fourth. More than half of respondents said the December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., made them more supportive of gun control measures, but more still listed the economy as their top priority.

Only 6 percent of respondents listed gun control as their top priority in a CNN poll the same month. Immigration garnered 3 percent, and the environment only 2 percent.

Jobs or the economy were listed as Americans’ top political priority in all four of those surveys.

Those issues fail to make OFA’s list of priorities, even though they consistently rank as Americans’ and Democrats’ most pressing political concerns, while issues such as gun control are consistently viewed as less important.

The Democratic Party appears to be shifting messages on guns in some states. The party’s Senate campaign arm emailed supporters on Friday lauding remarks by Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.), who said the OFA-backed Toomey-Manchin gun control bill was not a worthwhile proposal.

Pryor voted against the legislation, which did not pass. OFA has pledged to attack the vulnerable red-state senator and three other Senate Democrats who voted against the measure.

"I think it’s very clear that even in those red states, there’s overwhelming support for background checks" for all private gun purchases, Carson told the Hill in April.

Dobson said OFA’s strategy may be tactically useful but will not likely have broader appeal with mainstream America.

"There are certainly issues that groups might want to emphasize for issues of fundraising, base excitement, or appeasing your donors," Dobson told the Free Beacon.

"But if OFA wants to focus on the big issues that voters care about, the data's pretty clear," he said. "The economy isn't just a big issue. It's the issue."

OFA did not respond to a request for comment.