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The Graduate School of Political Management's social media monitoring research initiative, the PEORIA Project, released three new pieces on the impact twitter is having on politics and communications.

The first, published in the Washington Post, detailed rise and continued strength of the #MeToo movement. Researchers found that while #MeToo had been an activist hashtag on social media for some time, it exploded after the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment news. The reach and volume, in effect how many people saw the hashtag and how often they saw it, grew at least in part because well-known public figures were sharing their stories of harassment for the first time. Read more at the Washington Post.

Secondly, the PEORIA Project released its first quarterly report. Among the many findings, lead researcher Dr. Michael Cohen found that Congressional incumbents in close races should try their best to stay out of Twitter's glare. Two of the top mentions on political twitter in this category, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-CA) and Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), have already announced that they will not seek reelection to their seats in November. Read the full report on our website.

Lastly, the project also published its most recent ECHO report. In it, Cohen found that in the battle over who deserves blame over the government shutdown that started last week, Twitter found President Donald Trump more at fault than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Read the full report at US News.

As we get closer to the election, we expect to find more insights into the ways in which social media shapes and amplifies political messages, and the PEORIA Project will bring them to you. Be sure to subscribe to our PEORIA Project newsletter here.

Grassroots Professional Network

The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) didn’t become the first and foremost school of applied politics, communications, and advocacy on its own. We have an extensive network of partners that team up with us for panel discussions, networking receptions, and other events. One of GSPM’s key partners over the last three years has been the Grassroots Professional Network (GPN).

Founded in 2015, the GPN started as a community for public affairs professionals to provide professional development and networking opportunities. From those humble beginnings, the organization quickly garnered hundreds of members. The group now offers a portfolio of online resources, industry assets, and networking events, all at no cost.

GSPM and GPN started their partnership three years ago in the fall of 2015 with a series of lunch and learn events featuring advocacy industry leaders, including alumni of the GSPM. From there, the relationship has grown exponentially. In 2017, the groups worked together to create The Agora Government Relations and Public Affairs Marketplace, which featured more than three dozen vendors and drew more than 800 attendees. Using that success as a guide, GSPM and GPN plan on expanding their relationship yet again in 2018, starting with the State of Advocacy Forum to be held on campus at GW on January 31.

“GPN would not be nearly as successful of a non-profit organization without the support, ideas, and innovation of the GSPM program and staff who have taken an interest in seeing GPN grow and succeed throughout the course of our partnership. I look forward to working with GSPM for many years to come,” said GPN Founder and Chairman Joshua Habursky.

In many instances, GSPM alumni have been at the forefront of these events, serving as facilitators and panelists. Both groups look forward to a continuing relationship that raises the profile of each organization, and continues to professionalize the field of grassroots advocacy.

A host of changes to politics over the last two decades, from redistricting and gerrymandering to modifications of campaign finance laws, have decreased incentives to govern effectively said  one current member and three former members of Congress at an event Wednesday at the George Washington University.

Those changes and their consequences have given rise to a series of never-ending purity tests, says former Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.). “I came into politics with the understanding that you compromise to get things done….,” Mr. Wynn said. “As a result of redistricting, you end up with inter-party fights, and I view it as a fight between ideological members and pragmatic centrist candidates.”

Mr. Wynn added that SuperPACs and other outside groups made the changes worse with outsized spending and advertising campaigns that seek to nationalize every race, rather than focusing on local issues.

Mr. Wynn was among four panelists at the event co-hosted by GW’s Graduate School of Political Management and the U.S. Association of Former Member of Congress. Also on the panel were former Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), B.S. ‘63, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)  and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).

Read more at GW Today.

(apologies to George Gershwin and Gene Kelly)

By Prof. Michael Cornfield

June 5, 2017

My Facebook reaction to the president’s announcement to exit the Paris climate agreement last Thursday was this:

GSPM grad Travis Taylor was skeptical:

Travis is right about the low priority Americans accord the environment as a campaign issue. A Reuters/IPSOS poll concluded just before the announcement was in keeping with the trend; environment was selected at the top issue by a mere 3% of voters, far below the top three of economy/jobs (20%), health care (18%), and terrorism (16%).

But I think Trump gave the issue a boost in salience. He is by far the most famous person on earth, maybe in human history; he gets more free media coverage than the next 1,000 people combined. His spotlight moves quickly from topic to topic, but the Paris exit was declared from the Rose Garden, it was a binary decision everyone understands, and the time frame for it is four years, not decades (the eco-time frame) or one day (the @realdonaldtrump time frame).

So I think the announcement sets off a messaging contest in sync with the 2018 and 2020 elections. Good issue positioning entails linking across standard categories. The battle will be over Paris AND job creation (especially job loss to foreign countries, Trump’s issue citadel), Paris AND energy prices (gas, of course, but also electric) and even Paris AND quality of life (hazards and disasters) in the battleground states and districts where voters live. We’ve already seen Dominion Power becoming an issue in the 2017 Virginia primaries.

Behind the messaging, this will be a battle of corporate clout: fossil-fuels against renewables, inland against coastal real estate. The fossil inlanders have a tremendous head start in the form of Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity (AFP) and its related influence organizations. By 2015, AFP had a $150 million yearly budget, 500 paid staffers including directors in 34 states, and 2.4 million activists advocating, among other things, a “No Climate Tax” pledge taken by three-fifths of GOP House members and over half of GOP Senate members in the 113th Congress (2013-2014).

The opposition to Trump’s announcement voiced by CEOs of big corporations, Michael Bloomberg, the governors of California, New York, and Washington state, and numerous mayors is a significant reaction. That’s all it is for now.

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