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.