Astroturf is the term for manufacturing an artificial appearance of grassroots concern about an issue. The idea is to pump a bunch of money into a PR campaign that makes it look like there is public support for something, to either make politicians think the public actually supports something, or to provide “cover” for politicians to vote against the public interest.
I received the following in my inbox today, from the PR firm Padilla Speer Beardsley. Their “About Us” page says, “The specialists in our firm can help you speak through the news media, on the Web, within your trade group or directly to your constituents.”
The following the very definition of astroturf: manufacturing an appearance of popular support, where there is none. It comes just as the House and Senate are meeting to finalize the financial reform bill. I would say this effort is more likely in the category of providing cover for politicians to vote against the public interest than trying to persuade politicians that there is support for something.
Americans Want Uncle Sam Out of Wall Street
Almost half of Americans (42%) prefer the government take a less significant role in the financial services industry according to a new OmniWeb survey conducted by GfK Financial Services, a division of GfK Custom Research North America.
Other highlights included below in the press release revealing that current opinions break away from political stereotypes (as “blue” states are starting to align with “red” states). …
NEARLY HALF OF AMERICANS PREFER LESS GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY REPORTS NEW GfK SURVEY
Study reveals current opinions break away from political stereotypes
NEW YORK, May 26 2010 – GfK Financial Services, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, today announced highlights from a new OmniWeb survey that reveals almost half of Americans (42%) prefer the government take a less significant role in the financial services industry. Comparatively, only 26% of respondents say they’d like to see more government involvement.
Political Lines Blurring… Blue States Align with Red
Surprisingly, “blue states” are in agreement with their Republican counterparts when it comes to government involvement in the financial services industry. In fact, more respondents on the predominately Democratic West coast report they would prefer to see a lighter federal hand in Wall Street affairs (46%) than their “red state” neighbors in the Midwest (44%) and the South (41%). Additionally, over one third (36%) of Americans who live in the Northeast also prefer less government involvement. To compare, 28% of respondents in the Northeast say they’d actually like to see more of a federal presence as well as 27% in the West, 25% in the Midwest and 23% in the South.
Across the Demographics… Americans Want Less
More men (46%) than women (39%) say they prefer less government involvement in the financial services industry. Additionally, while respondents across all age groups agreed they’d like to see less of Uncle Sam on Wall Street, Americans 65 and older were more likely to prefer less government involvement (54%) than younger generations (34% among 18-to 24-year-olds). Results also show that households with the highest reported annual income ($75,000 plus) actually prefer more government involvement (38%) than any other income segment (25% among households that make less than $20,000 annually).
“With the slow economic recovery, the sheen is off the federal stimulus packages,” explains Douglas Cottings, Managing Director of GfK Financial Services. “Americans are growing weary and earning back their trust in Wall Street and Washington is still a major sticking point. To help turn the tide, it’s critical for financial companies to refocus their time and resources on first repairing the damage to their reputation in order to win back consumer confidence.”
Additional survey findings will be released at the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) Marketing and Research Conference in Orlando, Florida as part of the June 4th presentation, “Winners and Losers: Recession Impact on Perceptions of Companies.”
Note the anti-government tone. The government coughs up trillions of dollars to save their asses, and they respond by using that money to promote “less government involvement”