Last night, CBS Evening News aired a report revealing that 60,000 AARP members have canceled their memberships since July 1. Many of these individuals are switching over to the American Seniors Association (ASA), which bills itself as the conservative alternative to AARP. From the CBS report:
Last week alone, they [ASA] added more than 5,000 new members. Our camera was there Friday when the mail came. … Letters were filled with cut-up AARP cards.
Wow. So many seniors who are willing to voluntarily tear up their AARP cards and join this conservative organization must really show how upset people are at AARP and its support for health care reform, right? Well, not really.
What CBS didn’t report is that ASA is currently offering a promotion to get AARP members to switch their allegiance. As Dissenting Justice reports, if seniors send in their torn AARP membership cards, they receive a two-year ASA membership for the price of one year. From the top of the ASA website:
ThinkProgress contacted an AARP spokesperson who said that while the organization is “concerned” about the 60,000 members who have left the organization, the number needs to be put into perspective. The organization generally loses 300,000 members a month just due to membership lapses and death. But since July 1, AARP has had 1.5 million people renew their memberships and 400,000 new members sign up.
Additionally, as Dissenting Justice points out, the people who recently joined ASA may not actually be quitting AARP: “[B]ecause it is probably impossible for ASA to confirm that new members have actually canceled their AARP memberships, people could send their torn-up cards to ASA, get a discounted membership with ASA, order a replacement card from AARP, and retain memberships in both organizations.”
Past campaigns like the ASA one have been largely unsuccessful. Earlier this month, the American Family Association (AFA) urged its supporters to call and cancel their AARP memberships. According to an AARP spokesperson, just 15 percent of the people who called were actually even members in the first place. (The AFA campaign also urged supporters to join ASA instead.)
Jamison Foser has more on CBS’s shoddy report.