200,000 Signatures a Week

A longtime source working to qualify Gov. Jerry Brown tax-hike initiative for the ballot says they are collecting signatures at a rate of 200,000 a week.

That would make this one of the most successful, and productive qualification efforts in history.

I know of only two qualification efforts that produced at a faster rate. The original lottery initiative in 1984, and the latter half of the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003. Those were both phenomenal -- fueled by tons of publicity and authentic popular rallying to the cause.

While Brown's initiative is popular in polls, there doesn't seem to be clamoring to sign it.

This is the product of a big machine of petition circulators and direct mail and internet posting.

Putting together this kind of mass signature effort is particularly impressive now -- because the methods of collecting signatures are under pressure. 

There are fewer and fewer malls and retailers that permit signature gathering -- so there is literally less space to approach people on the street. Cutbacks in postal service make direct mail signature gathering a less useful bet; more and more people simply discard their mail, and anything that looks like a solicitation.

Of course, the success of this campaign is as much about money as organization. Circulators are making $3 per signature. No other statewide measure is paying more than $1.50.

Indeed, the only real competition for the initiative have been high-paying local measures in cities and counties. In my part of Southern California, the closest is a city of San Gabriel measure that was paying $2.50 per signature.

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