Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | July 03, 2003

Campaigns perplexed at Dean's Q2 success

It's clear from reading pieces like this one that Dean's opponents still don't understand what is driving his success.

They think his supporters are "angry", or that support is deep, but not broad. They make snide little remarks about Dean's supporters.

Mr. Jordan, Mr. Kerry's campaign manager, said of Dr. Dean, "Ultimately, the question he has to resolve is has he painted himself into a corner, ideology and stylistically?"

Aides to several candidates said they would welcome a two-way primary fight with Dr. Dean, in the belief that he might prove particularly vulnerable to attacks.

"I think most Democrats would prefer not to have Howard Dean as the nominee," Mr. Gephardt's campaign manager, Steve Murphy, said. "I'll leave it at that."

An aide to Mr. Lieberman said: "Everyone wants a race against Dean. Everyone has looked at the research, and he looks easiest to bring down. He's positioned himself as a liberal, and liberals don't win here."

"What the Democrats want more than anything else in the nominee is someone who can beat Bush Democrats just want to win," this aide said.

Look, this isn't a partisan issue. The fact that the non-Dean presidential contenders continue to misjudge the Dean phenomenon is disturbing. They continue to diss his supporters, as though they are less than worthy of consideration. Why? Because they're young? Because they can "only" donate $25, or $50, or $100?

Once again, rather than take the opportunity to study Dean's tools empowering the grassroots (it's really not rocket science), they cling to the status quo with an almost pathological zeal. The rules are changing, and they don't want anything to do with it.

So while Dean communicates directly with his supporters via the weblog, the others insist on communicating via press release. While thousands of Dean supporters gather on their own initiative around the country via Meetup, the others think "reaching out to voters" means walking into an Iowa diner and shaking the hands of people sipping coffee at the front counter.

There are two candidates that are generating the most buzz -- Dean (obviously), and the unanounced and theoretical candidacy of Gen. Wes Clark. What do they have in common? They are the only two efforts that have made extensive use of the web to build support.

I just noticed that blogger Matt Stoller has abandoned his previous support for Kerry, and now sports a Clark Meetup icon on his site.

The unofficial John Kerry blog averages 26 visitors a day. A look at Kerry's official site shows nary a link to the unofficial blog. Why? Because they can't control the message?

Edwards' people say they are not worried about poll numbers. That a massive advertising blitz in the fall will be his salvation. It never had to be an either-or proposition. Olivir Willis originally launched a weblog supporting the Edwards candidacy. The genesis for a credible Netroots effort was there. But Edwards' people would rather "communicate" to the voters via a 30-second TV spot than directly through a weblog. That weblog is obviously withered from a lack of official support, and the result? Willis' support for Edwards has been trumped by his respect for the Dean movement.

The top-bottom campaign structure is DEAD. Communicating via only press release is DEAD.

Dean (through Trippi) gets it. Kucinich just got it. Clark, if he's smart (and if he enters the race), will let the Draft Clark people run his Netroots operation because they obviously get it. Everyone else? They are marginalizing themselves.

The future of political campaigns is here. And this is no dot-com pie-in-the-sky hyperbole. I'm excited because $7.5 million from 59,000 supporters just validated what I've been advocating since last year.

As Trippi said of the other campaigns, "Bring it on. They don't understand this kind of campaign."

They not only fail to understand, they don't have the foggiest clue.

Posted July 03, 2003 08:39 AM


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