Friday, November 10, 2006


In the "credit" debate there are two types of people, those who are trying to glorify themselves, enhance their reputation, and obtain more power, and those who just, you know, want to make sure we do the right thing.

All I know is months ago it was conventional wisdom in DC that the Democrats couldn't take the House, that candidates shouldn't talk about the war, and that the best way to try to win 15 seats was to throw all your money into about 18 of them and hope for the best. In the end that's not how it played out. The field of candidates widened, more campaigns were centered around the issue that voters consistently said was the most important one, and we did win the House. The real question is precisely how that happened. My sense is that candidates managed to build really great grassroots campaigns, managed to get some poll support by doing crazy things like talking about the war, some of those campaigns managed to get netroots attention from excellent local bloggers and from here and firedoglake and the axis of kos-mydd-swingstate (mostly the latter 2), creating additional buzz and media coverage which allowed them to attract more donors and finally some attention from Rahmbo. And then some, including one that I know the DCCC was, early on, actively hostile to, managed to win. Yay them.

I really don't care who gets "credit." I just know that it's silly to set this up as a competition, and some of the hostility you see from some in the party organizations to the "netroots" is absurd. Whatever role people online play- and the money raised isn't the most important role - they're, you know, trying to help Democrats get elected.

The strategic point that Markos and Chris Bowers and others have tried to make is that if you don't play you can't win, but every game has an entrance fee. If you don't have credible candidates in place - and, yes, even ones who are probably going to lose - you can't take advantage of a potential "wave," or a sudden scandal, or surprise retirements. If nothing else it seems like every election about half a dozen or so incumbents are knocked out at the last minute by scandal or surprise retirement, and those are easy (sometimes automatic) pickups if you have a candidate who is actually running a credible race.

Also, if you don't run credible candidates regularly, and run real campaigns, you don't build networks of support, you don't build local knowledge, and you don't build a pool of talented and willing volunteers.

As for Lamont/Lieberman, well, that sucks, but a big reason we all supported a run against Joe was to force the party to Start Talking About the War. And they did, eventually.

...adding, and of course Webb and Tester were both grass roots/netroots candidates who ran against DC-backed candidates in their primaries. (Webb did eventually get support from prominent people in DC, but he wasn't the initial chosen one.) My bad, faulty memory here. Alice Marshall reminds me that Webb was the DC-backed candidate.

...also, adding, as Troutski reminded in comments, we saw in this election cycle how even poorly funded challengers running against important incumbents can suck massive amounts of money away from other campaigns. The party organizations and donor networks are incumbency protection rackets most of all, and any hint of challenge to incumbents causes lots of money to be thrown their way.