Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘fifty-state strategy

Dean the Baptist

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I think it’s safe to say the “Dean the Baptist” meme has taken root. Here’s Ari Berman in The Nation:

Indiana is a good example. When Dan Parker became chair of the state party in November 2004, his first order was to slash his staff in half after Democrats lost the governor’s mansion. Indiana, like so many states, had been written off by the national party–the last Democratic presidential contender to carry it was Lyndon Johnson. But Dean gave Parker the money to hire three field organizers and a full-time communications director, the first the state had ever had. (When Dean came in, thirty states had no such important position.) In 2006 that staff worked on three competitive Congressional races long before the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) arrived. The party picked up all three seats that year and elected a record number of Democratic mayors in 2007. By the time the Democratic primary rolled around this past May, Hoosier Dems had been revitalized, and Obama–to the surprise of many–invested heavily in the state, visiting forty-nine times. On November 4 Obama won Indiana–a state John Kerry lost by twenty points–by 26,000 votes. “We’re a poster child for the fifty-state strategy,” Parker says.

If Indiana was ignored by the national party, then a place like Alaska–5,000 miles from Washington–didn’t exist. Dean was roundly mocked, including in a New York Times Magazine profile, for visiting and investing in the Last Frontier. “The idea that you’re going to put money in a place like Alaska seemed insane,” Dean says, “because you could take the same amount of money and maybe win a House seat in California with it. That was the thinking here. The problem is, that’s a totally short-term strategy.” The DNC’s investment increased the size of the Alaska party staff from one to four. More important, “it made Alaskans proud to be Democrats again,” says state chair Patti Higgins. When opportunity struck, as Dean predicted, Democrats were ready. “It doesn’t look so dumb now that Ted Stevens got indicted [in July] and today we have a Democratic senator from Alaska,” Dean says. “But without a voter list and a party that knows what it’s doing and is well trained and staffers that are up there for four years, we don’t win that seat, plain and simple.” Not only did former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich knock off Stevens; Democrats ran their strongest challenge yet to Alaska’s lone Congressman, Don Young, who’s held the seat for thirty-five years, and polls showed Obama leading in the state before John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate. Now the party is focused on ousting Palin from the governor’s mansion in 2010. When I spoke to Higgins, she was heading to a press conference to denounce Palin, who was campaigning in Georgia that day, as “AWOL from Alaska.”

More from Matt Yglesias. That fifty dollars I gave Dean for America? I don’t regret it.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 29, 2008 at 1:10 pm

We Got Our Country Back

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Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen links to the latest of the Howard Dean retrospectives.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean said at the National Press Club that President-elect Barack Obama “was right in 2004, when he said there are no red states and no blue states; there are only American states, and we all share the same values.”

“You cannot be a national party if you are willing to write off entire parts of our country,” Dean stated. “Based on that pretty straightforward idea, we changed the way our party ran campaigns and reached out to voters.”

In a memo, the DNC touted Dean’s strategy, which was often maligned at its inception.

Like a lot of people my age, Dean was both the first candidate I ever gave money to ($50) and the first Democrat I ever really believed in. While I see more clearly now than then that he probably couldn’t have beat Bush in ’04—though I remember some pretty good arguments with Shankar on this point—in terms of both organizational strategy and campaign aesthetics he helped pave the way for the Obama movement. And while the fifty-state stategy he instituted as chairman of the DNC was certainly lucky in our choice of nominee—though we likely still would have won with Hillary, it would have been on a much more traditional playing field—it’s fundamentally the right strategy, the winning strategy, as the increasingly regional Republicans are about to learn the hard way.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 6, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Midday Politics Links

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As warned, it’s a busy kind of week. Here’s what I’m reading about:

* Obama returns again to North Carolina tomorrow morning in Raleigh.

* The N&O looks at North Carolina’s answer to the butterfly ballot, the straight ticket vote that doesn’t vote straight ticket. This is a very foolish way to design a ballot, but it has a long history in North Carolina, and it’s fairly well-marked both on the ballot and in the polling place. I’m hopeful this won’t be determinative of the outcome here.

* Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

* A PEW Research poll puts Obama up an improbable sixteen points nationally, up 19 among those who have already voted. The RNC has taken to the airwaves in a bid to retain Montana. In Ohio, 22% of the population has already voted, favoring Obama 56%-39%. McCain is only up three points in Arizona. In short, things are looking good.

* Another article looks back to Howard Dean as one of the forces (both before and after “The Scream”) who made Barack Obama’s candidacy (and, one hopes, landslide victory) possible.

* And another classic for the Palin files: forget “diva,” a top McCain adviser says Palin is a “whack job.” More at Washington Monthly, which makes the key point: “To blame Palin is to blame McCain. If the campaign is her fault, then the campaign is his fault.”

Electoral College Watch

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Open Left has a map with Electoral College projections from aggregated state-by-state polling that looks pretty good to me, this far out.

That’s 242 EVs (Obama) to 206 EVs (McCain) with 90 toss-ups. The toss-up states are Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska-02, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. It’s pretty hard to imagine that Michigan won’t go to Obama in the end, so put those 17 EVs in his column. Now he’s at 259, and with Wiconsin a pretty obvious get as well he’s already at 269.

(This is why some people in the media are salivating over the possibility of a 269-269 tie, by the way; it’s not impossible.)

I think there’s actually a fairly sizable chance he could take Nebraska-02, even though that hasn’t ever happened, putting him at exactly 270 and in the White House—but let’s, you know, play it safe and campaign the hell out of Ohio, Missouri, and Virginia all teh same.

I’ve been an Obama-blowout-booster for a while now, and despite the difficulties of the Democratic primary I still am. I think Obama has a decent chance of crossing 300 EVs, including a victory in North Carolina if everything really comes together for us.

Obama’s people, for what it’s worth, agree; he’ll be fielding campaign staff in all fifty states.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 10, 2008 at 7:58 pm