Until he became a full-time elected legislator in 1996, the focus of Obama’s political activities was the largest radical organization in the United States, Acorn, which was built on the Alinksy model of community organizing. A summary of his Acorn activities was compiled by the Wall Street Journal:
In 1991, he took time off from his law firm to run a voter-registration drive for Project Vote, an Acorn partner that was soon fully absorbed under the Acorn umbrella. The drive registered 135,000 voters and was considered a major factor in the upset victory of Democrat Carol Moseley Braun over incumbent Democratic Senator Alan Dixon in the 1992 Democratic Senate primary. Mr. Obama’s success made him a hot commodity on the community organizing circuit. He became a top trainer at Acorn’s Chicago conferences. In 1995, he became Acorn’s attorney, participating in a landmark case to force the state of Illinois to implement the federal Motor Voter Law.
That law’s loose voter registration requirements would later be exploited by Acorn employees in an effort to flood voter rolls with fake names. In 1996, Mr. Obama filled out a questionnaire listing key supporters for his campaign for the Illinois Senate. He put Acorn first (it was not an alphabetical list). After Obama became a U.S. Senator, his wife, Michelle, told a reporter, “Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.” Her husband commented: “I take that observation as a compliment.”