Existing methods of measuring people power and impact could be improved to make organizing stronger. This report—written for both scholars and organizers—first argues that we should conceive of the locus of power as what the people, not political elites, have the potential to do. It breaks down power into multiple sub-components, which can be all measured: inputs (e.g., 1:1 meetings, events, voter contact) and outputs (e.g., growing constituency base, policy changes, election outcomes). It provides some tips for measuring power, such as mapping out networks of organizations, analyzing text of various messaging across time or place, and collecting data on legislative bills proposed or passed by a specific government. There are other ways to measure potential power and engagement, by collecting data on direct action attendees or organizational membership over time—and their changing roles in any organization hierarchies. To try to understand impact, these measures of power “inputs” can be correlated with the “outputs”. Organizations will often have to collect this data, themselves—unless they partner with researchers like the P3 Lab or the Democracy and Power Innovation Fund.
An Approach to Understanding and Measuring People Power