At least, that's the most important point I got out of this story (heh):
The Democratic chair plans to fight in every one of the 50 states. Is this shrewd strategy or a recipe for disaster?
By Dan Gilgoff
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006
DIAMONDHEAD, MISS.--Here's what the front line of Howard Dean's revolution looks like: two dozen senior citizens seated inside this gated community's clubhouse listening intently as operatives from the state Democratic Party pitch them on becoming precinct captains. A rep named Jay Parmley approaches an oversize easel and flips to a page showing John Kerry's share of the 2004 presidential vote here in Hancock County. "28%" is scrawled in magic marker. "Kind of scary," Parmley says.
But he flips the page to show former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's share of the vote here in his unsuccessful 2003 re-election bid: "43%." The discrepancy, Parmley explains, shows that the better Mississippians know a Democrat, the more likely they are to vote for him. Which is why he's here recruiting precinct captains. If Democrats can define themselves on a "neighbor to neighbor" basis, Parmley says, their candidates can win again, even here, in a red county in a red state.
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."
Great strategy, Howard... and yes, voters in Mississippi are probably more inclined to vote for a Mississippi Democrat than say, a Vermont Democrat. Or a Massachussetts Democrat... or a Democrat pretending to be from New York.
Of course, it's great that they're trying to be competitive in all 50 states and not just focusing on their enclaves on the coasts. Unfortunately, their platform doesn't exactly sell well with voters in the heartland of America. If they open their ears and eyes when they visit these foreign (to them) places, perhaps the party will be less likely to listen to the Moonbats (like Markos "Screw 'Em" Moulitsas Zúniga). I for one would welcome such a change...
ARC: St Wendeler