The Political Multiplier Effect: Why Teachers are Crucial for a Democrtic Party Victory in 2012.

 In December, 2008, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, the Obama political brain trust might have been meeting with prospective cabinet appointees.
Axelrod: “I know Duncan is Barack’s close friend, but he’s really gonna piss off teachers … they were crucial on election day, maybe we should press for Linda Darling-Hammond, the teachers and the scholarly community would strongly support her.”
Emmanuel: “F___ the teachers, who are they voting for? Sarah Palin? They’re between a rock and a hard place, Arne’ll be just fine.”
Three million plus teachers not only voted for Obama, they’re committed themselves to the task. Two years later they probably voted democratic, if they voted, but they’re didn’t commit themselves to the races.
Rahm and Dave ignored the political multiplier effect.
In the field of economics the multiplier effect,

a company spends $1 million to build a factory. The money does not disappear, but rather becomes wages to builders, revenue to suppliers etc. The builders will have higher disposable income as a result, consumption rises as well, and hence aggregate demand will also rise. Suppose further that recipients of the new spending by the builder in turn spend their new income, this will raise consumption and demand further, and so on.
 This process proceeds down the line through subcontractors and their employees, each experiencing an increase in disposable income to the degree the new work they perform does not displace other work they are already performing. Each participant who experiences an increase in disposable income then spends some portion of it on final (consumer) goods, according to his or her marginal propensity to consume, which causes the cycle to repeat an arbitrary number of times, limited only by the spare capacity available.


In the field of politics the multiplier effect differentiates supporters. One class of supporters simply vote for the candidate on election day. Others commit themselves to the election of the candidate: phone calls, knock on doors, spend weekends traveling to crucial cities, generating many votes beyond their own.

 Teachers have a high multiplier effect: in the 2008 presidential election teachers, in many communities, were the core of Obama support. Not only did they spend endless hours in the campaign they impacted other voters in the school community.

 The Obama-Duncan education policies alienated teachers, pushed them to the sidelines and deprived the Democratic Party of shock troops, the volunteers that are so crucial to winning elections on the ground.

The Republicans will support reducing spending as well as backing off from an intrusive roll in imposing Federal policy on states and localities. Education Week reports,

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader who is likely to become the speaker of the House, said in an election-night speech that Republicans will “take a new approach that hasn’t been tried before in Washington—by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it. Reducing the size of government instead of expanding it.”

That’s likely to mean a move toward less federal involvement in education policy, which expanded under the Bush administration and the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, analysts said.

  With fewer Federal dollars and less of an appetite to micro-manage policy, i.e., the No Child Left Behind school redesign/closing requirement, we may see education moving off the prime spot on the Obama agenda.

  For the Democrats, how do you win back the “high multiplier” teachers for 2010? How do you convince teachers that Obama will move his agenda to one that is more comfortable for teachers?

  With Rahm’s departure perhaps the new Obama advisors will recognize the crucial impact of teachers and the need to lure them back, a mea culpa would be welcome.


4 responses to “The Political Multiplier Effect: Why Teachers are Crucial for a Democrtic Party Victory in 2012.

  1. Eric Nadelstern

    What a sad commentary to hope that education falls off the national agenda!


    • How sad it is to see the NYC school reform effort corrupted into a grade inflating, student placement gerrymandering, scholarship bereft thing that the NYCDOE has become. It pains me to have to say-the current system is morally bankrupt, and is depriving so many children of their only hope of escaping the circumstances they were born into. The current leadership has no intent other than to destroy, and falsely claim progress.
      Encourage the ETS to publish the aggregate score of NYC students on the SAT over the last ten years-if you dare!


  2. Nancy S. Dunetz

    The real sad commentary is the enormous destruction of American education that the national agenda has imposed on us all, top down and ending with the children and their parents.


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