Captain's Quarters Blog

« Israel Got Hezbollah's Attention | Main | Rightroots: Irey Needs Support »

August 2, 2006
The Coming Democratic Meltdown

The Howard Dean experiment at the DNC appears to have created division, distrust, and chaos, as many of us predicted last year when Dean took the job. The Washington Post reports that party leaders have begun to craft back-channels to undermine Dean's authority, bringing their efforts for a national program for the midterms to a shambles:

At a meeting last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) criticized Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean for not spending enough party resources on get-out-the-vote efforts in the most competitive House and Senate races, according to congressional aides who were briefed on the exchange. Pelosi -- echoing a complaint common among Democratic lawmakers and operatives -- has warned privately that Democrats are at risk of going into the November midterm elections with a voter-mobilization plan that is underfunded and inferior to the proven turnout machine run by national Republicans.

The Senate and House campaign committees are creating their own get-out-the-vote operations instead, using money that otherwise would fund television advertising and other election-year efforts. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) -- who no longer speaks to Dean because of their strategic differences -- is planning to ask lawmakers and donors to help fund a new turnout program run by House Democrats. He recruited Michael Whouley, a specialist in Democratic turnout, to help oversee it. ...

Many Democrats said that despite a favorable political climate and record-setting fundraising, the campaign to recapture the House and Senate could fall short if the organizational problems persist. "What the party really needs is to get serious about local, volunteer-based" operations, said Jack Corrigan, a longtime Democratic operative. "The last-minute, throw-money-at-it approach . . . does not really solve the fundamental failure to organize that is there. The DNC is moving in the right direction, but needs to do more, fast," he said.

Dean gave the internal version of "Yeaarrgh!!" in response, telling Democrats that "we have a big secret ... and it's going to help us win." That sounds great, but successful political campaigns keep secrets from their opponents, not from their allies. With the election coming in three months, one has to wonder when Dean plans to let his pals in on his big secret, and what exactly about grassroots organization would be so secret in any case.

The big secret appears to be that Dean has been a complete incompetent at the job of party chairman. He has only raised a little over half of the funds that the RNC has gathered and only has one-quarter of the cash on hand of his rivals, a rather critical problem in the final 90 days of an election cycle. He has angered his big-checkbook donors, even George Soros, who probably lost some interest anyway when his efforts to buy the presidency fell short in 2004. The Democrats have been left with the slender reed of conservative disaffection with the GOP, and hope that the Republicans have turnout problems to mask their own problems with organization.

Now we have the different committees and activists within the party working independently, lacking coordination, and shuffling their money around to cross purposes. One of the key figures for the midterm cycle, DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel, won't even speak to the head of his own party. The party has fallen apart, thanks to Dean's incompetence and their lack of action in correcting it.

If the Democrats lose the midterms, expect to hear a lot of conspiracy theories about Karl Rove's supposedly Machiavellian power. The truth will be that the Democrats sealed their fate when they put a nutcase like Howard Dean at the head of their organization.

UPDATE: I made an error in the difference between cash on hand and overall fundraising, which I have corrected, thanks to Thlime in the comments on this thread.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 2, 2006 9:41 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Coming Democratic Meltdown:

» It's al about turnout from Betsy's Page
It really is amazing that, after four years of the Republicans crowing about how effective their GOTV efforts were in 2002 and 2003, the Democrats haven't organized their own parallel operation. Part of the problem with the Democratic GOTV efforts ... [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2006 10:53 AM

» S.O.S. from Gulf Coast Pundit
The Coming Democratic Meltdown more redundancy…again..ed The Howard Dean experiment at the DNC appears to have created division, distrust, and chaos, as many of us predicted last year when Dean took the job. The Washington Post reports that part... [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2006 12:14 PM

» Caped Crusaders from Hard Starboard
Chairman How is obviously focused less on winning itself than on being able to take credit for it if it happens. And he's showing every bit the prowess at that endeavor that he did in winning the 2004 Dem presidential nomination and DNC fundraising s... [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2006 7:17 PM


Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!