Heath Brown: Numbers suggest murky future for Moms for Liberty
While some folks see M4L as a major player in coming political struggles, Heath Brown looks at some details and suggests that they may not be as powerful as they seem. There many reasons to take them seriously, Brown points out, but some other details make their future less clear.
There’s no doubt Moms for Liberty is a thing today, but it’s much less clear where it’s heading in the future.
For one, Moms for Liberty is organized like other civic groups: chapters arrayed across the country planning local events and mobilizing school board protests. On Thursday, the chapter in Orange, NC is holding a monthly meeting. Later this month, the Douglas County, NE chapter is participating in a campaign kick off for State Board of Education candidate, Lisa Schonhoff.
And, it’s just this structure that lead Jonathan Weisman at the New York Times to claim Moms for Liberty “draws power from its diffusion — 275 chapters in 45 states with nearly 115,000 members.” As Weisman points out, though, we have to take Moms for Liberty at its word on its size.
Based on what it shares publicly, there’s no doubt Moms for Liberty is growing. If we focus here just on the number of chapters in the country, the organization seems to have grown 50% in the last two years, from 152 chapters in 2021 to 282 today (my count is 7 higher than Weisman’s). In 2021, 17 states had no chapters at all, while today that has fallen to just 7 states.
The growth, however, hasn’t been evenly spread throughout the country. Four states — South Carolina, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida — account for a third (44) of the new chapters over the last two years. This suggests that the political power is considerable and expanding in some states, but nearly absent and even waning in others.
Or, consider that, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada — a GOP strategists’ wish list for the 2024 presidential election and 3 of the 4 toss up states according to Larry Sabato’s 2024 forecast— all have fewer chapters today than just two years ago.
If we look deeper at the chapter numbers, the apparent political power is even more questionable. The chapter formed in 2021 in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa, no longer seems to be operating today. It’s neighbor, Pima, still has a chapter, but that county has one-fourth the population.
Similarly, in Texas, though the total number of counties with a chapter increased from 7 to 9, Moms for Liberty lost the chapter in the state’s largest county, Harris. In fact, only 1 of the largest 5 counties in that state, Denton, has a chapter operating today.