In Praise of the 50-State Strategy

The Sunday New York Times Magazine has a well-written article by Matt Bai profiling DNC Chair Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy: spend less money on media and GOTV in the small number of seats that are known to be contested months before the election and instead build a fully national field organization. The article is entitled, The Inside Agitator.

I thought it was especially ironic to see public doubts being expressed by the people who’ve been losing elections year after year during the very weekend that Democrats are poised to pick up Mark Foley’s seat here in Florida. You need a full court press not only to keep the other side from being able to concentrate its money, but also because you never know where something could happen.

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3 Responses to In Praise of the 50-State Strategy

  1. Ann Bartow says:

    It sure would be nice to have at least the nominal presence of the national Democratic Party here in South Carolina. We actually have a somewhat competitive governor’s race here at the moment, with the Democratic candidate, Tommy Mooore, having at least with a rational possibility of unseating the Republican incumbent, Mark Sanford. The challenger isn’t very liberal or appealing, to say the least, but he would probably be an improvement over Sanford, whose performance has been abysmal, and his upset election would send an interesting message about a very “red” state.

  2. Phill says:

    The point that Dean surely understands after blowing a $20 million warchest is that money alone does not guarantee success. Moreover there is a limit to the amount of money that can be usefully spent in one race.

    The close races will all receive saturation coverage. Spending money in the less travelled areas is not going to have a major impact in 2006 but it may well pay dividends in 2008. Its not just the election efforts that are underpowered, its the fund raising efforts. $35K for an organizer is peanuts, any decent political organizer can raise several times that amount.

    Here in Massachusetts there has been a Democratic lock on pretty much every position you can imagine for 40 years, apart from the Governorship which has been a Republican for the past 10. People get fed up of one party government.

    Alaska must have plenty of Republicans who are outraged at Ted Steven’s bridges to nowhere and there is a major corruption scandal brewing involving Stevens, his son and the self named ‘Corrupt Bastards Caucus’. It is well worth having organizers on the ground to exploit the corruption issue nationaly.

  3. Altoid says:

    You never know *where* lightning will strike, true. But you also never know *when* the zeitgeist will shift and the current demographic alignments with parties will change.

    The target-district strategy is based on the idea that demography is destiny. Possibly true in the short run, but it clearly isn’t over the long haul. The whole point of parties is to have the organization in place to make the shifts happen and take full advantage of them when they do.

    It’s the same reason we have research libraries with research collections. Most of the resources aren’t being used now, but you never know, going forward, just what holdings are gong to be absolutely vital for some important research. These things can’t be predicted.

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