Several things are of interest:
1) their meteoric growth, and 2) the fact that they are membership based:
“Numbers USA had fewer than 50,000 members at the end of 2004, but now counts more than 447,000, with an increase of 83 percent since January alone.”
3) the way they deploy their members:
The group collects detailed information on its members — their ethnic background, politics, religious affiliations, occupations and concerns — so it can choose the most effective advocates on any particular issue.
In a survey question on religion, the group said the information would be useful because many lawmakers were likely to respond better to people with ”a very similar religious worldview.”
4) The message discipline they exert on their members, often covering up racist motivations that might be discounted:
” Numbers USA initiated and turbocharged the populist revolt against the immigration reform package,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant advocacy group. ”Roy Beck takes people who are upset about illegal immigration for different reasons, including hostility to Latino immigrants, and disciplines them so their message is based on policy rather than race-based arguments or xenophobia.”
Instead of racism and xenophobia, NumbersUSA’s talking points sound much more like environmental arguments:
“that immigrants and their children are driving population growth, which he says is gobbling up open space, causing urban sprawl and creating more traffic congestion.”
5) Lastly, the fact that they are funded by conservation organizations:
” . . . . in the past the group received about two-thirds of its money from foundations like the Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh and the Weeden Foundation in New York. Many of these foundations have an interest in conservation.”
Now, while all this is of interest, the $10,000 question is – how many organizations can you name on the progressive side of the aisle who have grown 10 fold in their membership? MoveOn and Democracy for America come to mind, but they both seemed to peak around the ’04 election. I’d be interested to know of groups I’m missing, or just to hear other’s thoughts.