The Glaeser et al. study analyzes which groups end up with sizable political influence. The membership cannot be too small because then any perceived catering to the group loses too many votes from the bulk of the population relative to the small number gained. But the membership cannot be too large, because then targeted messages are impossible. The research shows that the most effective groups comprise a little less than half the population. The membership also has to be cohesive enough to facilitate private communication. U.S. churches fit with both characteristics. U.S. labor unions fit once upon a time, as well, but have since become too small.The study referred to is: Strategic extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats divide on religious values. (Edward Glaeser, Giacomo Ponzetto and Jesse M. Shapiro) Forthcoming, Quarterly Journal of Economics. HIER Working Paper #2044 (pdf)
Point to ponder: How can these insights be applied to politics within the Episcopal Church? For instance, is it possible for one camp to send targeted messages without the opposing camp learning of the message. Concrete example: election of deputies to convention -- this is often a sleepy process, but the stakes have risen and not everyone is awake. Shall I wake up those who I think will side with me if it's likely that I will wake up others as well?