Democratic Election Strategy (cont.)

| July 18, 2006

Via the immensely valuable Real Clear Politics comes a link to this USN&WR article about how Howard Dean’s “50-state strategy” is actually playing out. Sample:

If that doesn’t sound revolutionary, consider this: Mississippi’s Democratic Party hasn’t trained precinct captains for more than a decade. Until recently, the state party consisted of a single full-time staffer. In 2004, the Democratic National Committee invested so little here that activists shelled out thousands of their own dollars to print up Kerry yard signs. That all changed last summer, when newly elected DNC Chairman Howard Dean began rolling out his “50-State Strategy,” a multimillion-dollar program to rebuild the Democratic Party from the ground up. Over the past year, the DNC has hired and trained four staffers for virtually every state party in the nation–nearly 200 workers in all–to be field organizers, press secretaries, and technology specialists, even in places where the party hasn’t been competitive for decades. “It’s a huge shift,” Dean tells U.S. News. “Since 1968, campaigns have been about TV and candidates, which works for 10 months out of the four-year cycle. With party structure on the ground, you campaign for four years.”

The strategy is also a reaction to the past two presidential cycles, when the shrinking number of battleground states the Democratic nominee was competing in left no room for error. Both elections were arguably determined by a single state: Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Says Dean: “We’ve gotten to the point where we’re almost not a national party.”

But Dean’s plan has helped feed a fierce intraparty battle between the DNC and the committees tasked with electing Democrats to Congress: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel has been especially vocal to Dean over concerns that the DNC is misallocating resources in a year when the Democrats are poised to take back the House. Grousing about insufficient funds from the DNC, Emanuel recently told Roll Call “there is no cavalry financially for us.” Emanuel declined interview requests, but DCCC sources say more money should go to Democratic candidates in tight races, not to field organizers in long-shot red states.

Here’s my earlier posting on the subject. ..bruce..

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Category: Main, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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