In January 2009, right before Inauguration Day, Obama for America turned into Organizing for America, part of the Democratic National Committee. In a video to supporters, Obama put out the call for continued involvement in his “movement.”
“The change we’ve worked so hard for will not happen unless ordinary Americans get involved, and supporters like you must lead the way,” Obama said, promising future communications on how to stay active. The one-time community organizer from Chicago had become Community Organizer in Chief.
The idea was to set up 50 state chapters of OFA to help further Obama’s legislative agenda. Right after taking office, amid an economic crisis, OFA held house parties to rally support for the president’s stimulus package. OFA also organized around Obama’s climate bill and the mother of all Obama initiatives, health-care reform, including more house parties, phone banks, calls to counter conservative tea partyers at town halls, and a contest for the best video promoting reform.
All those measures passed eventually (though the climate bill, known as “cap and trade,” died in the Senate), but assessments of OFA found its impact hard to quantify.
“It isn't that OFA hasn't done anything – it's that it's hard to say whether what it's done has actually mattered,” wrote Charles Homans in the liberal-leaning Washington Monthly in January 2010, a year into Obama's first term.