Project: who will be the next to leave the Chamber?

The Chamber of Commerce has had a challenging couple of weeks. The group has been under fire from all sides for its stance on climate change and other major policy issues. Change to Win, Eliot Spitzer, and Valerie Jarrett have all gotten in on the act. Mother Jones’ investigative team has been cranking on all cylinders, recently revealing that the Chamber had exaggerated its membership by a factor of ten (300,000, not 3 million as claimed). Several companies have defected, including Apple and Nike.

Yesterday, the Chamber managed to extend the media cycle by suing the Yes Men for impersonating them. In what could be mistaken as the grand finale to the Yes Men’s stunt, the Chamber claimed that the activists are greedy businessmen, not the “merry pranksters” they presume to be.

Chamber members are feeling a lot of heat, and the ones with weaker loyalties to Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue and his agenda are probably considering going the way of Apple. But who are they? As the Chamber splinters, who will stay and who will go?

Using LittleSis data and a bit of social network analysis, I think we can make some predictions.

Though much smaller than originally believed, the Chamber is a large organization, and it has a fairly complex and opaque governance structure. This means that

there is a huge amount of LittleSis-style relationship data to collect, on committee members, board members, and member companies, everything from political giving info to outside affiliations. Analysis of this data could yield valuable insights about the way the organization works — and who is most likely to stay or leave.

Since we could go in so many different directions with the data, we’re going to build a very focused data set to start: political contribution data for each and every board member of the Chamber. We’ll cocmpile the data using a special tool that we’ve developed to help advanced analysts compile Open Secrets political donation data.

Once we’ve compiled that data, we will analyze the board’s giving patterns and look for notable divisions or groupings, in the manner of Valdis Krebs’s post on the Chicago 2016 committee. Perhaps there is a cluster of board members who love to shower money on right-wing ideologues. Or a contingent of Obama supporters that are less likely to close ranks around Donohue.

We will publish the analysis sometime next week.

If you are interested in getting involved in this project, please sign up for a LittleSis account (and note your interest in the Chamber). If you are already an analyst, send me a note.