|Most places in America have at least x kinds of organizations that are potential members of the sort of coalition I am describing. These are:
(1) Labor unions. Locals at the very least, but more often central labor councils.
(2) Liberal and/or mainline churchers with social welfare concerns, and an internal organizational structure to provide service, at the very least. In many cases, there is also an advocacy structure as well.
(3) Social service agencies. (Some overlap with #2 here.) While government agencies are not normally engaged in advocacy and do not join coalitions, many services are provided through non-profits that can engage in some forms of advocacy.
(4) Democratic clubs.
(5) Local chapters of national organizations--peace, environmental, civil rights, feminist, gay/lesbian, etc.
(6) Local organizations dealing with specific issues. These include environmental groups with specific local missions, non-profit housing corporations, community-development organizations, etc.
Many places have a much richer mix, but these basic sorts of organizations tend to exist everywhere, if you just know where to look. Remember, to get this effort off the ground in any congressional district only requires a handful of groups. Of course it's better to have a coalition of groups representing a combined membership that's over half the population of the district. But if you're just starting with one union, one homeless shelter, one environmental group, one peace group, one non-profit housing group, one feminist group, and one progressive minister--and that's all you have from an entire congressional distict--then that's enough to hold a press conference for the release of the first poll. It's great if you can do much more to get started. But one purpose of using the poll to start organizing is that it will draw attention, and help with outreach to bring more groups together.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you should not limit your thinking to groups that already have a primary focus on national issues. Quite the opposite. The greatest potential often lies with groups that are intensely focused on getting things done on a local level. They may do very little, even nothing on a national level, because they may not feel that it is an effective use of their time and resources. But that doesn't mean they are indifferent. Create a framework that allows for them to be heard without detracting from their primary mission, and you can gain significant credibility by your association with them. What's more, people in such groups often belong to other groups as well.
Effective organizing always depends on learning about how things already are working. You don't want to ask 100 people to come to 10 more meetings. You want to learn where those 100 people are already going to be, and get someone they all respect to put you on the agenda for a meeting they're already going to attend anyway.
I know this will seem ridiculously obvious to some. But it's amazing how often it seems to be overlooked.
Above I listed different kinds of organizations that could be involved. But I don't mean to imply that our organizing should consist of knocking on hundreds of individual doors. Often coalitions already exist to work on issues that concern multiple constituencies. It's only natural to look to such coalitions as natural starting places. If there have been recent progressive ballot initiatives, this can be an excellent place to start in compiling lists of people and organizations to contact.
There are lots of people out there who have years, heck, decades of experienec doing this sort of coalition-building work. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Find someone who's an expert to do it, and apprentice yourself to learn from them.
Okay, more questions?