rivka: (Obama)
A while back I posted about McCain's apparent lack of a ground campaign - and especially the lack of a nationwide organizational structure capable of matching up against Barack Obama's. At the time, the discrepancy in the ground campaigns seemed so incredible that I was half-convinced there was some kind of weird Trojan Horse thing going on - a stealth ground campaign we couldn't see.

According to the Washington Post, apparently not:
McCain has faced a severe spending imbalance during most of the fall, but the Republican nominee squirreled away enough funds to pay for a raft of television ads in critical battleground states over the next four days, said Evan Tracey, a political analyst who monitors television spending.

The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain's strategy.

The vaunted, 72-hour plan that President Bush used to mobilize voters in 2000 and 2004 has been scaled back for McCain. He has spent half as much as Obama on staffing and has opened far fewer field offices. This week, a number of veteran GOP operatives who orchestrate door-to-door efforts to get voters to the polls were told they should not expect to receive plane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms from the campaign.

"The desire for parity on television comes at the expense of investment in paid boots on the ground," said one top Republican strategist who has been privy to McCain's plans.


The Post article quotes a campaign advisor saying that negative ads are more likely to change people's minds than personal contacts are. And maybe that's what the McCain campaign believes. But to me this reads more like a campaign that has realized that it can't and won't win (check out this piece of desperation), and is doing what it can to poison the well and make governance harder for the next president.

The problem with my giving up/spoiler interpretation is the overwhelming evidence that the ground campaign has been lacking from the beginning, even in swing states where it was presumably needed most. That link is to a 538.com article called "The Big Empty," a summary of their experiences visiting 50 McCain offices in 13 battleground states. It's a devastating indictment of the campaign - check out their photos, in particular.

On the flip side, Obama's ground organization has been truly revolutionary. Everyone with an interest in practical politics should read this lengthy, thoughtful, and fascinating analysis of how the Obama ground campaign is structured, and their intense efforts to develop, nurture, and sustain volunteer leadership.

The "New Organizers" have succeeded in building what many netroots-oriented campaigners have been dreaming about for a decade. Other recent attempts have failed because they were either so "top-down" and/or poorly-managed that they choked volunteer leadership and enthusiasm; or because they were so dogmatically fixated on pure peer-to-peer or "bottom-up" organizing that they rejected basic management, accountability and planning. The architects and builders of the Obama field campaign, on the other hand, have undogmatically mixed timeless traditions and discipline of good organizing with new technologies of decentralization and self-organization.

Win or lose, "The New Organizers" have already transformed thousands of communities—and revolutionized the way organizing itself will be understood and practiced for at least the next generation. Obama must continue to feed and lead the organization they have built—either as president or in opposition. If he doesn't, then the broader progressive movement needs to figure out how to pick this up, keep it going and spread it to all 50 states.


As I read the article, I kept thinking of my experiences working with Dean For America in 2003-2004. Many of the organizing principles sounded like grown-up, much-improved versions of the work we were trying to do in the Dean campaign. And indeed, the success of the Obama organization developed from both the DFA organization and Dean's work to develop a nationwide Democratic Party structure in his work as the Chair of the DNC.

Because I'm still a Dean partisan in many ways, I'm so thrilled to finally see public recognition of the brilliance of his 50 State Strategy. When he took over as head of the DNC, a lot of people thought sending paid Democratic organizers into places like North Carolina was a dumb waste of money. Dean looks like a genius now.
rivka: (Dean icon)
Slightly more coherent thoughts about the end of the Dean campaign here.
rivka: (Dean icon)
(crossposted from [livejournal.com profile] howard_dean)

Such a great Meetup last night.

Our December Meetup was really lackluster. It was plagued by tech problems and just sort of generally disorganized. People didn't stick around very long, and I couldn't blame them. We did a lot of core committee brainstorming by e-mail, and the changes we decided to make had dramatic effects.

The new elements: we had Dean speeches and interviews playing on the TV monitors for about half an hour beforehand, as people were coming in. We had fewer speakers, and all our speakers had a definite purpose in mind when they got up to speak. We had more good news announcements: poll results, recent endorsements, and a local 14-year-old kid who raised $1000 for Dean online. The cheering seemed to help people get energized.

The most important change was that we spent most of the Meetup in small group work. We get around 200 people at Baltimore city Meetups, and recently they had lost the sense of intimacy that helped people in early days get involved and stay involved. I remember coming home from the last one and asking [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel, "What did we have people do tonight that they couldn't have done at home in front of their computers?" It's awful campaign strategy for there to be no answer to that.

So last night we broke down into precinct teams - really neighborhood clusters of precincts, actually. Each precinct team is responsible for calling likely primary voters to find out who they're supporting and give them a positive message about Dean. After that, we'll do campaign literature drops at people's houses. [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and I are co-captains for our neighborhood. That means we're supposed to organize phone banks, get Dean supporters to work them, and report information about our neighborhood voters to the national campaign. (Our notebook says: "The information in these notebooks is very valuable and the property of Maryland for Dean. The other campaigns would love to get their hands on this, so DO NOT COPY OR DISTRIBUTE THIS INFORMATION TO ANYONE ELSE OR LEAVE IT UNGUARDED." (hysterical emphasis theirs.))

The other good innovation for this month's Meetup was that we had a newcomers' group. It's easy for us old-timers to forget that not everyone who shows up at a Meetup is a diehard Dean supporter ready to go out there and knock on doors. So when we split into precinct teams, new Meetup attendees had a choice of either joining their precinct team, or gathering with other newcomers and a few core committee members to discuss Dean's candidacy and positions. I found while I was working sign-in that new people were really glad to have the opportunity to have their questions answered and talk about their own opinions and experiences, instead of just being swept along in a flood of campaign work.

I came home feeling so excited. I just love this campaign.
rivka: (Dean icon)
Remember how I have a weblog? Yeah, I just remembered too. Commentary on Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean is there.

(I am pleased to see that, even though I hadn't updated in almost two months, my blog is still the first Google result offered to those searching for respectful otters.)

*whimper*

Nov. 14th, 2003 04:14 pm
rivka: (Dean icon)
I just got a message on my voicemail from Bill Meyer, the head Dean guy in Baltimore. Dean's going to be in town Monday for a $250-a-plate fundraiser, and they need some extra people to help out with the event. It would mean getting to attend the luncheon for free and probably getting to meet Governor Dean. Because I've done so much to help out with the Meetups, I'm at the top of his list - do I want to go?

Monday.

The one day out of all the year that I have to haul my ass 50 miles out of town for a mandatory all-day work retreat.

I had tears of envy in my eyes when I called him back to decline.
rivka: (Dean icon)
Today was my first official day as an issues tracker for the Dean campaign. I'd done a dry run on Saturday afternoon, researching my issues and entering them into the database, but today I was working to the campaign's schedule for the first time.

Here's what I do. I'm resposible for tracking four social issues: HIV/AIDS, drug addiction and treatment, housing, and Native American issues. Every weekday morning, the campaign policy staff responsible for those areas need to be updated on the most recent news and activity related to those issues. My priorities are (1) anything mentioning the issue and Howard Dean, (2) anything mentioning the issue and the Bush administration, (3) anything mentioning the issue and Dean's Democratic rivals, and (4) any major news, even if it doesn't mention a candidate. I enter the articles I find into a wiki set up by the campaign, creating a traditional weblog sort of page with the link and a juicy quote or two plus separate pages with the full text of each article. At 9am EDT, someone downloads everything I collected and gives it to the policy staff responsible for my areas.

This morning I selected eight articles for them: John Kerry was criticized on the campaign trail for missing some AIDS votes in Congress; a national medical marijuana group is targeting Vermont legislators (Dean is mentioned); the Bush administration is objecting to a Canadian plan to make cheap AIDS drugs for export to poor countries; Gray Davis vetoed a needle exchange bill; the DEA is raiding Oregon medical marijuana growers licensed by the state; the Supreme Court will hear a test case on applying the Americans with Disabilities Act to recovering drug addicts; advocates for the poor are criticizing Bush's urban development and housing policies; and Gray Davis signed a bill extending Indian gaming in California.

It took me about an hour. I'm hoping - and expecting - that I'll speed up as I refine my search strategy. This morning's research certainly took less time than Saturday's, when I was still learning how to use the wiki and was also searching exhaustively. (It didn't occur to me until this morning, for example, that I don't need to search all the Democratic candidates separately, because almost any story mentioning them will use the word 'Democrat' or 'Democratic.')

I still feel really, really good about being selected to do this.
rivka: (Dean icon)
I got the call!

I got the call from the Dean campaign!

I am now a volunteer researcher for the policy staff. I'm responsible for providing them with daily news clippings, preferably with commentary, about potential policy issues related to HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, and drug treatment. Until real experts volunteer, I'm also supposed to provide them with information on housing and Native American issues, although they understand that my commentary on those topics is less likely to be brilliant. They say they're excited about having me on the team, especially given that their HIV & drug policy person isn't really an expert in those areas.

Me! They called me! I'm going to be able to make a contribution beyond handing out flyers and signing people in at the Meetups! I feel so incredibly proud.
rivka: (Dean icon)
There's a really nice article here about Howard Dean as a hockey dad.
“Howard was always there to help out with anything that needed to be done,” Morin adds. “He came to practices, he came to all the games, he was always active with working the penalty boxes. And, of course, it was great having him there as a doctor just in case any of the players got injured.”

While the Religious Right has condemned the former Vermont governor for signing the civil-union bill into law, anyone who accuses Dean of being weak on family values had better make a quick line change. During Dean’s 11 years in office, Montpelier politicos all knew the governor’s calendar was kept open to accommodate his children’s athletic schedules, especially during the playoffs. That commitment hasn’t wavered since Dean began running for president. The Dean For America Web site notes that his presidential campaigning is scheduled around his son’s high school hockey games.
I am especially pleased to see that Dean's daughter played hockey as well, and that he's credited with building the sport, as governor, by offering grants to schools for developing girls' hockey programs.

See, this is family values. He didn't just show up to get his picture taken, he drove the carpool. And he's not trying to take credit for the slightest involvement in his children's lives, as famous fathers sometimes seem to do - this really is a deep and significant level of hands-on parenting. I admire that.
rivka: (Dean icon)
(I tried to post about this last night, but LJ ate it. Trying again now.)

Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and I went to a big Howard Dean rally on the University of Maryland campus. (Read news accounts here or here, or see pictures here.) I came home so simultaneously tired and excited that I had a hard time keeping my fingers on the keys as I tried to write it up. Wow.
Read more... )
The Dean people are really pushing outreach and campaign-building this month. Right now, more than 360,000 people have signed up to receive updates and information from the campaign. They're trying to grow that to 450,000 by the end of the month. I know that several people have told me that they're interested in Howard Dean or thinking of supporting his campaign. If you're leaning Deanward, I urge you to sign up right now with the campaign here.
rivka: (Dean icon)
Last week, [livejournal.com profile] elynne posted that she's thinking about supporting Howard Dean. In the comments, a couple of people mentioned critical pieces about Dean: [livejournal.com profile] hopeforyou linked to a post by [livejournal.com profile] greendalek accusing Dean of opposing civil liberties, and someone I don't know linked to a harshly critical column in Counterpunch.
so I did some research...this gets REALLY long. )
rivka: (Dean icon)
Here's the text of a recent Howard Dean stump speech in Iowa, including an informal question and answer period. If you haven't checked Dean out yet, you might want to take a look. It's a good basic introduction to his positions on many issues - and to his style, which is a big part of what attracts me to him.

I admire a guy who will stand up and say,
I told you when I started out that there were going to be some things that you agreed with me on and there were going to be some things you didn't agree with me on, and I think we've found a few. But one thing you're going to know is what my position is on every single issue. I'm not going to say one thing to one group of people and something to somebody else.

I know what the feeling is in this part of Iowa about gay rights. Don't you think I knew that before I ran for president?

This is why I think he can win. He's not going to try to pretend that his opinions match the opinions of the center all the way down the line - he's going to position himself as someone we can trust even when we disagree. He doesn't go in front of conservative Democratic audiences and say, "Well, the Vermont Supreme Court made me do something for gays, and I thought civil unions would be better than gay marriage." Which he could do. But he also doesn't write those voters off. He challenges them to believe that he can be a good president and someone who disagrees with them about gay rights.

As the Baltimore Sun says, it's all about authenticity.
rivka: (Dean icon)
Yesterday, I took the afternoon off work. [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and I drove up to Philadelphia for a Howard Dean rally that - amazingly - drew more than 3,500 people, the largest crowd he's ever drawn anywhere.

I don't think I've ever been to a candidate rally before. All my previous political enthusiasms have been around ballot measures, not candidates. My immediate reaction was that it was strange to see Dean up there on stage after seeing him on TV and in pictures so many times - I remember thinking, "Wow, he really looks like that in person!" (In retrospect, obviously, that makes no sense whatsoever. What else would he look like?)

Unfortunately, Dean was way delayed by weather. He called in at 5pm, which was when he was scheduled to speak, to say that he was "on the runway" and would be there in 40 minutes. At first we assumed that he had just touched down in Philadelphia, but he must have still been on the runway in Washington DC - he didn't arrive for another hour and a quarter. At that point, the opening speakers - who had initially done a fine job - were repeating themselves several times over and people were getting cheering fatigue. The applause lines were definitely beginning to fall flat. Once Dean took the stage, though, the energy went through the roof. I screamed. I was so excited!

His speech was very brief (he was supposed to be at a candidates' forum) but it didn't matter to me. It was great to see him and to hear his voice. He really is incredibly charismatic when he's speaking to a crowd. I'm looking forward to seeing him again - he'll be in Maryland on September 8th - and getting to hear his whole speech. After he spoke we walked him up to the Constitution Center, where the candidates' forum was being held. I noticed the strange absence of supporters of any other candidate - I mean, I know that Dean was the only one who gave a talk outside, so I didn't expect there to be hundreds of Kerry and Lieberman and Kucinich supporters... but you'd think there would be some. It was odd.

[livejournal.com profile] curiousangel seems to be leaning slightly Deanward. I'm trying not to pressure him - I know that my enthusiasms can be a little bit... overpowering. But it would sure be fun to volunteer for the campaign together.
rivka: (her majesty)
I'm bitter about having to spend my Sunday afternoon at the office, even though it's my own fault for not pushing harder on our latest grant application during the week.

Whose freaking idea was it for our grant to be due the week before my dissertation is due? I'm just asking. It doesn't seem like the best of plans.

Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel is on his way to pick me up and bring me home. Yay for not having to walk to the light rail in our exciting world of fierce intermittent rain squalls. I went to the hospital cafeteria around 1:30 to pick up some food for lunch and carry it back to the office. In the ten minutes I was inside, it absolutely poured and then cleared up again - blue skies and all. Now it appears to be raining more steadily, foiling my plan to cook dinner on the grill. Grr.

In cheerful news, my man Howard Dean is the cover story in Time and Newsweek this week, as well as having a small inset picture on the cover of U.S. News and World Report and having a front-page story in the Washington Post. Also, he's leading polls in the first caucus/primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa, although still within the margin of error. Isn't it about time you climbed on the bandwagon?
rivka: (Dean icon)
Howard Dean released a disability rights platform today. I'm so pleased - and also surprised, actually. It's a very thorough set of positions, and even in the press release it's evident that he understands the impact of different disability laws and programs. He really seems to get it.

Kerry is the only other Democratic candidate with a disability platform, as far as I can tell, and it's kind of sketchy. Edwards has a statement about increasing medical research on disabilities in the section of his website about his health care views. Lieberman, Kucinich, Gephardt, Mosely-Braun, and Sharpton don't seem to have disability platforms, as far as I can tell from their websites.
rivka: (Dean icon)
I don't know if anyone ever looks at my profile page, but I put a nifty little Howard Dean graphic there just in case. Clicking on the link takes you to sign up with the campaign. The number of supporters is updated daily.

Feel free to propagate using this bit of code, first replacing all three curly brackets with angle brackets.

{a href="http://www.deanforamerica.com/signup"> {img src="http://www.deanforamerica.com/images/front/counterafd.gif" border=0></a}
rivka: (Dean icon)
I've never followed a presidential race as closely as I'm following this one. When you look closely, the machinery really is quite visible behind the red-white-and-blue backdrops.

John Kerry, for example, never gives a quote about Howard Dean and his supporters without pushing one of two messages: ultra-liberal minority, and angry. Neither does anyone else on Kerry's staff. They quite literally never say a public word about Dean that's not on-message - even if the message doesn't make sense in context.

Take Dean's second quarter fundraising totals, for example. He raised $7.6 million - far more than anyone expected, and more than any of the other Democratic candidates. So Kerry was quoted saying that everyone knew Dean's support was deep, but the question was whether it was broad. On message once again: Dean supporters are a tiny radical fringe - he has no broad support.

Now the FEC's released the full second quarter details.[1] Dean had 73,000 individual donors in the second quarter. Kerry had 23,000. Kerry was arguing that Dean had less broad support in the same quarter that MORE THAN THREE TIMES as many people donated money to Dean.

I researched Kerry before deciding to support Dean. I went to his Senate web page (he didn't have a campaign page yet), and bounced right off it. It felt as if every sentence there was crafted to appeal to donors and voters - it was all so slick and opaque. And Kerry's speeches and press releases still read to me like Extruded Political Product. I don't have a clue about what he really thinks - I can only tell what the talking points are supposed to be. That bothers me.

Sure, I'll vote for him if he wins the nomination - I mean, against this administration, I'd pretty much vote for a yellow dog - but I wouldn't be happy about it. I've grown accustomed to more.


[1] (A fascinating breakdown of campaign finances can be found in an interactive chart here.)
rivka: (Dean icon)
Vermont's poet laureate endorsed Dennis Kucinich.

The Dean campaign was asked for a response, and issued a haiku.

How can you not love a candidate like that?
rivka: (Dean icon)
It occurs to me that I've made a bunch of Howard Dean posts in the past week, and perhaps not everyone finds his political campaign as endlessly fascinating as I do. I've created a poll and put it behind the cut tag - if you have an opinion, please let me know your preference regarding my Dean campaign posts.
Read more... )

Update.

Jul. 8th, 2003 01:23 am
rivka: (her majesty)
I've made 9 of 18 tables for my results section. They're incredibly fiddly, and it's hard enough to cut and paste from my stats program that copying numbers into tables is highly laborious. I can tell I'm probably making mistakes - I'll have to proof my tables carefully.

[livejournal.com profile] curiousangel remembered as 12:15am that we'd arranged for bulk trash pickup tomorrow - we have an old ratty box spring that doesn't fit up the attic stairs, so we're dumping it. The city will pick up that sort of thing for free, but one's turn comes only once a month. So we went downstairs and hauled the box spring from the back yard, up the back steps, through the kitchen and living room, out the front door, and onto the curb. At 12:15am. Better than forgetting it, I suppose.

I sent another letter off to the Washington Post this morning, in response to an irritating column claiming that Dean supporters think we'll never have to organize beyond the Internet - apparently, because we're all unemployed former dot.commers who still think that the Bright Shiny Internet is not only all-important, but also sufficient unto itself.

My letter said:
Read more... )

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