Friday, November 07, 2003

Why Dean is winning

The Note gives a very good run down of key attributes of the Dean campaign and why it is succeeding. I even agree with where it is critical of Dean (i.e., the comment about not yet having a general election winning message on the economy):

1. Dean will raise more money in the year before the election than anyone else seeking the Democratic nomination, and that historically in the modern era is (with one exception) the iron-clad predictor of who wins in both parties.

2. Beyond money, this year Dean has dominated in message and media, two other fabu things to have.

3. None of the other candidates can overtake Dean in the fourth quarter — they can theoretically do damage to him (although, outside damage with the Chattering Class, we doubt that too), but they can't cripple him. There just aren't enough people paying attention yet.

4. What doesn't kill Howard Dean only makes him stronger.

5. Fair or unfair, the media has not held Dean to the same standards as the other major candidates. Wes Clark's entry into the race sucked up a lot of publicity and took the spotlight off of Dean at the one moment when critical mass was being reached.

6. At the same time, some of Dean's explanations for his alleged inconsistencies and flip flops are actually pretty convincing.

7. Dean's core supporters don't care about Sunday show gaffes and pratfalls, New York Times editorials, or what Terry McAuliffe or the Dingells think.

8. People actually listen to Dean talk at his events.

9. Dean's willingness to cede control to volunteers in the states for planning events and executing political activities is an act of confidence and strength, and has directly resulted in his drawing unprecedentedly large crowds and building genuine grassroots support.

10. Most Washington Democrats who are scared out of their wits about Howard Dean as their nominee have never been to a Dean event and don't have a genuine understanding of WHY he has succeeded this year. (emphasis mine - Chris)

11. Skipping the matching funds is a general election strategy, not a strategy for winning the nomination.

12. Governors do well as presidential candidates, and the members of Congress who are running against Dean still for the most part haven't learned not to talk like they are from Washington ("We CAN get Breaux-Gilchrest out of conference!!!! We can DO it!!!! And then passed by both chambers!!!"). Dean talks like a real person, and voters like that.

13. Dean is no newcomer to national politics; his work on the NGA and DGA (where he recruited ruthlessly) gives him as much applicable experience as almost anyone else running.

14. Howard Dean doesn't have cable TV.

15. Howard Dean has not developed a general-election winning message on the economy — yet.

16. Dean can theoretically win a general election race against President Bush, but not without growing significantly as a candidate and a person, including and especially in his rhetorical and symbolic relationship to faith, family, freedom, and national security.

17. All of the other five major candidates think they can and should be in the end the Dean Alternative, and each has enough hold on key state and national support that they have no incentive or desire to get out of the race and consolidate beyond one of the others. The pro-war candidates in particular are splitting a piece of the pie that is large, but it is still a SPLIT piece.

18. The people who work for DeanforAmerica have FUN, from the interns in Iowa to the senior stuff; the staffs for the other campaigns don't always remember to do that.

I was particularly struck by point #10. I've said for a long time that a lot of Democratic party insiders are too insulated and clueless about what is going on out here in the country. But is it true that they have cut themselves off so much that they haven't even bothered to attend a Dean event and find out why he is striking such a chord with the grassroots? That's simply amazing and yet more evidence that they really don't get it.

Perhaps it is time to invite them to the party?


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