Missing Kudos: Howard Dean and MoveOn

The praise for the Democratic turnover, unthinkable even last spring, has focused on individuals such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, DSCC and Rep Rahm Emanuel, DCCC. DNC Chair Howard Dean and the MoveOn.ORG PAC are also due recognition for the major roles they played. While the contributions of the Democratic leaders, and notably Sen. John Kerry, were a critically important factor; the overall results were also due to a much broader and very strategic effort by the DNC 50 State Strategy and MoveOn’s incredible ‘Take Back the House’ campaign –both launched in early 2005.

First Howard Dean’s out on a limb determination to rebuild the party infrastructure in all fifty states. Panned and derided by entirely too many DC insiders, Dean’s outsider chairmanship of the DNC paid off big time. Those of us who supported his nomination and have worked local and national political campaigns, knew immediately the plan would work if we supported it. No matter how much ongoing criticism, skepticism and negativism Dean faced, he stayed on it and deserves one huge THANK YOU FOR YOUR FORESIGHT AND DETERMINATION from the Democrats. A few private mea culpas would probably be in order as well.

This accomplishment is going to keep on giving, big time. The success of all this effort has brought hundreds of thousands of volunteers where they needed to be: Involved in the party process. Finding out what kind of intelligence and sustained effort it takes to get one person elected, let alone dozens. The sweet victory will only serve to keep them involved and ready to fight again. The staff members who had to sign on for several years in paid local positions will be there in upcoming elections with insight only experience can give.

I discussed below in Statehouses, The Other BIG Democratic Victory , the total control of 15 states, not to mention another governorship and other state houses is no coincidence. Anyone who believes this would have happened just because of the anti Bush, war and scandal mood is smoking too much of something. The long term effects ot this? Check out what happened after the Republicans did it. The Democrats started being told we were ‘the permanent minority party.’

The other major factor in this better than most of us could dare to dream victory, is none other than the MoveOn.ORG PAC. The MoveOn leadership decided after the 2004 campaign that they should “build on the enormous grassroots energy we saw over the past six months” to change “the national political landscape” in ’06. And they did just that. 3.2 million of them, 450,000 who joined in the past two years.

You can access their report to the membership, ELECTION 2006, People Powered Politics, as a PDF. A few highlights:

*7 million phone calls, 7,500 house parties, and 6000 in-district events. More people volunteered in 2006 than in 2004.

*Raised and spent $27 million in the two year cycle. 250,000 members contributed $3.6 million to individual House candidates and over $2.8 million to fund MoveOn TV ads in targeted districts. 608,727 individual contributions.

*The “Caught Red-Handed” TV ads targeting nine long-shot races with 5 wins – so far

Even Rahm Emmanuel said the MoveOn “ads have clearly made second-tier races into first-tier contests.” Yup, that’s the kind of strategy a lot of us would like to see the Democratic Party use. Input and organization by the grass roots driving the ad contents and campaigns – NOT MADISON AVENUE.

We should remember these two massive outreaches to volunteers. Their efforts turned the tide against the millions of GOP volunteers that swamped our elections for over a decade. And they did it without a Karl Rove or his tactics.

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18 Responses to Missing Kudos: Howard Dean and MoveOn

  1. Javelin says:

    Absolutely, I was thinking this today as I watched this:


    The most amazing statement in there I think was that by not building in 50 states before we were actually insulting the Democrats in those states and disintegrating the party.

  2. Ginny Cotts says:


    I cannot believe Carville suggested replacing Dean with
    Harold Ford. I like Ford and think he has a future somewhere, but to replace Dean now???

    Mary’s been hypnotizing him?

  3. Carville apparently wants to put the Clintonistas back in charge of the party. Thanks but no thanks. Howard is doing just fine. Carville sold Kerry out in 04 and he’d sell out anyone else too who isn’t Hill.

  4. battlebob says:

    Gees..is our party stupid or what?
    We normally eat those who fail; not those who succeed.
    The logical direction is to take what Dean did and expand on it; not revert back to the DC Dems know best.
    If we keep strengthing the local organizations we will continue to rack up the wins as our local messages are pretty much in line with public desires.
    We win when we listen; we loose when we are deaf to local needs.
    I got on the Dean bandwagon early as there was no other candidate. Dean showed his candidate weakness in Iowa long before the scream. His strengths were bringing people into his tent that were never a part of any tent.
    The smart move is to allow Dean to do what he does best; bring new people into the process.

  5. battlebob says:

    Great ideas from the huffingtonPost..
    The message:
    Don’t screw it up. Pass some popular legislation (minimum wage) and show the public we want to get things done. Then do the more difficult stuff.
    Don’t even think about impeachment (we don’t have the necessary Repub votes) but do conduct hearings and censure, censure, censure.


  6. Ginny Cotts says:

    The party rules would require a new vote and if I understand this right, he’s not up for reelection yet – it’s a 4 year term.

    You can go to the DNC site and leave a message – I told em they need to do some public support for Dean. Apparently Maher discussed Dean with Schumer who agreed he had contributed to the win. Didn’t see a clip.

    There was an email for Carville but it gave an error message when I tried to send.

    Dean slapped him down pretty well yesterday. Said we should replace Carville with a character from the Simpsons 😆 Yup.

  7. Javelin says:

    Pamela Leavey Says:
    November 11th, 2006 at 2:34 am
    Carville apparently wants to put the Clintonistas back in charge of the party. Thanks but no thanks. Howard is doing just fine. Carville sold Kerry out in 04 and he’d sell out anyone else too who isn’t Hill.

    Yup, my sentiments exactly. He’s about as blatent as Cheney when you see him on TV regarding his “views”. My gut instinct as far as the congressional “agenda” is that the Dems are going to keep Bush out of really hot water AS LONG AS he goes along with some of their initiatives. You watch, the minute he obstructs them another news story will start breaking that there will be more “hearings”. Somebody will be contacting a higher up in the GOP and say “Keep that dog on a leash or we’ll do it for ya”.

  8. Teresa says:

    I am highly impressed with Dean’s job and I think he will be a great asset in ’08.

    The right wing of the Dem Party is desperate knowing they have lost power. They’re just like the Republicans. Bad timing and no self control.

    The Clintons are out whether people want to accept this or not. No way will they get back into the WH. It’s an entirely new game. And Dean knows this.

  9. Teresa says:

    The demographic is changing. This election revealed a new strength in the electorate which scared everybody. The strategists might be losing some of their power, as they have to change their focus from pitting themselves aginst one another to pitting themselves against the will of the people. Or get with it.

    As I said before, the change in the West is nothing short of miraculous. Washington has a lot of waking and catching up to do. They are shocked and confused, and where it lands will be different from anything we’ve seen recently. They will have to officially recognize the new grass roots element in American politics. In ways, immigration is factoring in like it once did in this country. I think a large part of this result was the energizing of minorities by the Democrats on the ground. At least that’s the report I get from people who were at the polls in my town.

    Again, I think Dean is with it.

  10. mbk says:

    Teresa, I agree with you 100%– both #9 and #10. There really is a change of tone and demographic, and the Clintons are already not part of this new game and new perspective.

  11. pen says:

    As much as I’m not a fan of the deaniacs bashing JK constantly I think they need to give Howard Dean a lot more of the credit.

    Leave it the the DLC dems to shoot the party once again in the face. The netroots may very well abandon the party and a many of greens to not to mention others who are sick of the moderate and conservative dems bashing everyone else.

    Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, the clintons and emanuel all were wrong in their strategy for 06. Dean and Kerry were right and had to pratically go outside the system to help many and not the select few. Several of the establishments candidates didn’t even get passed the primaries.

    Now they want to take credit for a victory that wasn’t theirs.

    IF moderates were so big this election why did the northeast dump most of its rethug moderates. Easy, people are tired of their politicans towing the bush line. Moderates and conservatives tow the bush line liberals and progressives don’t.

    If the dc dems sell dean out like they have Kerry then the dems are finished in 08.

  12. Nick says:

    Pen says

    “IF moderates were so big this election why did the northeast dump most of its rethug moderates?”

    Good question. Moderates were big in this election in that they shifted towards the Democrats, the more liberal party! And a more ideologically cohesive party now that Dems have made big gains in the Northeast and Midwest (but have not made up any of the losses in the South).

  13. mbk says:

    Pen says

    “IF moderates were so big this election why did the northeast dump most of its rethug moderates?”

    Pen and Nick,
    Here’s the best analysis I’ve seen, from the Boston Globe:
    Paul Waldman, “The Democratic Center”

    Some excerpts:

    CONSERVATIVES searching desperately for a silver lining in the cloud of Tuesday’s defeats have tried to argue that Democrats only won because they ran conservative candidates. And they’ve gotten support from key members of the mainstream news media.. . . .

    In fact, the Democratic freshman class of the 110th Congress includes a few conservatives, but overall it is made up of candidates who held traditional Democratic positions. While some races have yet to be decided, we know a few things about the new Democratic members. All of them support increasing the minimum wage, and all oppose privatizing Social Security. Nearly all support embryonic stem cell research. All except a few are pro choice. And all of these positions enjoy majority support.
    So Democrats didn’t win because they moved to the right or ran conservative candidates. Many of the more conservative Democrats who ran in red states actually ended up losing. Those who won did so by opposing President Bush, questioning the war in Iraq, and carrying the Democratic banner. It was Republicans who were afraid to put their party identification on their lawn signs and in their ads. . . .

    So, despite what the press and pundits seem to believe, Democrats did not win by moving to the center; they won because at the moment, they are the center. According to exit polls, independents voted Democratic by 57 to 39 percent. And those describing themselves as “moderates” voted Democratic by an even wider margin, 61 to 38 percent.
    Even in places where more moderate Democrats won, it reflected fundamental shifts away from the right. Jim Webb won election to the Senate in Virginia because the state is moving from red to purple, as population in the more Democratic Northern Virginia suburbs has exploded. Democratic victories in states like Montana and Colorado came not because of conservative candidates but because independents and moderates have become alienated from a GOP dominated by its Southern social conservatives., ,,

  14. mbk says:

    More reason to thank Dean: In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox news, Dean offered a sensible , generous on JK’s botched joke , and on Carville -Harold Ford DNC story, and more. partial transcript is at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,228923,00.html

  15. Ginny Cotts says:


    I thought Waldman’s analysis was good too. The interview with Dean is excellent – he really seems to know his role. The idea that he called Ford- who isn’t interested (Note to Carville, check these suggestions out first) – was a chuckle for me.

    Thanks for posting those.

  16. Ginny Cotts says:

    In reading the various analyses of the election, the confusion is quite interesting if you have looked at a lot of the stats.

    For one thing, the number of new seats earned does not reflect the margin by which all the seats won. The overall vote totals were impressively for Democrats and – darned if I can find that again – I believe it was in the 60% range. Essentially the popular vote by which the party won is far more of a mandate than Bush ever dreamed of.

    The GOP and some Dems are focusing on the House and Senate takeovers. The GOP in brushing off the win is ignoring the Dems now hold both houses and the Governors mansions in as many states (15) as the GOP did in ’94. We also took other executive and legislative branches in more states. The national governors split is a Dem majority. Mayoral races were also won by Dems, and no doubt many other state and local races, which was very obvious in Colorado. This is another form of the mandate.

    What drove the voters seems to come out very differently in the various polls. Some said majorities of GOP, swing and independent voters just voted against Bush, some said they had no idea what the Dem plans or issues were, others that they agreed with the Democratic plans and ideas, big differences on what the most important issues were even though Iraq clearly led, and the idea that Democrats won because the candidates were more centrist.

    Finally, there was some consensus that the myths of Karl Rove’s and the GOP GOTV machine invincibility were dispelled. I hope no one is delusional enough to think they are conquered and sit back.

    If anything, the huge lesson for me was that the Dems need to keep their efforts going between all elections. Without the 18 months of the Take Back America campaign and the 50 State Strategy there would have been a much smaller victory, period. And the vast majority of work in both was from volunteers. Obviously there’s broad support for going straight to the ’08 race. After that we have to maintain the momentum for ’10 and the legislatures that will redistrict on that census.

    I’d like to find an analysis that looks at the races where the candidates had little or no money for ads, but did a lot of their own door knocking, coffees etc. One idea that appeals to me is to have town hall type meetings where all candidates for an office could come, but would have their own time with the audience. They would only be allowed to answer questions with their own ideas, record, etc. no taking time to bring up another candidate at all.

    Well, that’s my dissertation on ’06 election analysis.

  17. Teresa says:

    Another very important thing to keep in mind is how slim the margin was in many Republican wins. Longtime incumbents. There is no denying the trouble that the Party is in.