DCCC Alters Strategy

If it is broke, it needs fixing, so it is nice to see the DCCC changing tactics: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) has cropped the number of "Frontline" Democrats from last year's 19 to nine, implementing revised criteria to determine which incumbents are truly vulnerable and deserving of member-to-member donations.(...)

The DCCC declined to confirm the names on the list, but numerous sources throughout the caucus, including aides for lawmakers who have been told of their Frontline status, said that Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Chet Edwards (Texas), Stephanie Herseth (S.D.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Charlie Melancon (La.), Dennis Moore (Kan.), and John Salazar (Colo.) were informed last week that they will receive direct donations from their fellow incumbents, in addition to other campaign assistance.

"The list is not final," said Greg Speed, spokesman for the DCCC.

This year's shortened list could still grow by two or three lawmakers, several caucus sources said, pending redistricting in Georgia, where two marginal Democrats -- freshman Rep. John Barrow and second-term Rep. Jim Marshall -- will likely see their districts become more Republican.(...)

Emanuel's new formula places a greater emphasis on the generic Democratic percentage, instead of the incumbent's numbers, and therefore punishes lawmakers who underperform in their districts.

"The idea is you don't reward members for running bad campaigns. You look at how members are doing compared to other Democrats," said another senior Democratic aide with direct knowledge of Emanuel's thinking.

I welcome this change. Since the 2004 election, my preferred strategy has been that the DCCC heavily target ($750K plus) a smaller number of Democratic and Republican held districts (18 or less), and provide seed money (around $50K) to a far greater amount of Republican held seats (80 or more). While is would reduce our chances of taking back the House before 2012, I believe this would both provide Democrats both with a greater chance of gaining seats in any single election, and with a long-term presence in a far greater amount of districts so that a more serious challenge can be mounted in a wider variety of districts sometime in the future. After all, these days it typically takes at least two cycles to defeat all but the most vulnerable incumbents, and so it is on the long term that we need to place our focus.

Another good way of measuring the success of any new strategy is by how much the Republican Noise Machine disapproves of it:

Republicans expressed shock that Democrats had trimmed their list of vulnerable members.

"Based on the fact that they've lost seats in the last two cycles, I would think that Democrats would try and protect as many incumbents as possible," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Just like with Dean, I love it when we disobey the advice given to us by Republicans. It is also time that we fight fire with fire and redistrict in Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico in response to Republican actions in Georgia and Texas.

Tags: House 2006 (all tags)



attack more GOP seats
I posted what I think the strategy should be locally (Chicago-Milwaukee area).

In general I think Dems should be more aggressive about attacking GOP seats. A more aggressive strategy will inspire more volunteers and more contributions.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-03-01 06:22AM | 0 recs
I agree that this is good
"Since the 2004 election, my preferred strategy has been that the DCCC heavily target ($750K plus) a smaller number of Democratic and Republican held districts (18 or less), and provide seed money (around $50K) to a far greater amount of Republican held seats (80 or more)."

This makes sense.  No sense shooting for the moon and losing it all.  However, as many seats as possible should at least have a living body challenging it, in case the incumbent goofs up or dies.

by Geotpf 2005-03-01 06:22AM | 0 recs
Don't see an open thread...

But what about that Supreme Court victory today? 5-4 decision in favor of upholding the 8th amendment and banning the death penalty for minors.

Civilization took a bold step forward today!

Let's see: Iraq is a lost cause that cannot be won, Roe vs Wade still in effect, killing minors is now illegal, and Bush will never be able to privatize SS. So far this 2nd term is shaping up just fine! Thumbs up chimpy!

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-03-01 06:23AM | 0 recs
Don't fight partisan redistricting in kind
It is also time that we fight fire with fire and redistrict in Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico in response to Republican actions in Georgia and Texas.

I disagree.  I think the Democratic Party needs to solidly position itself in the public mind as the party of fair elections and democracy, consistently and across the board.

We need to loudly decry the Republicans' partisan redistricting in the states they've done it, and equally loudly point out the states we could do it in but are not.  We then use that to push for nonpartisan redistricting rules in all stats that don't have it yet.

We have only a small number of seats to gain from partisan redistricting in the states you list.  We have much more to gain from a solid, clear position in favor of fair elections and a better democracy - using that, we can gain seats all over the country.

by cos 2005-03-01 06:28AM | 0 recs
one exception
I would brook one exception: We could threaten Dennis Hastert (D-IL) with editing him out of his own district.  He's a member of the house leadership, he has influence over what Georgia does or does not do, and if we made it a clear enough tit-for-tat the public would probably forgive it.
by cos 2005-03-01 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: one exception
There is no redistricting that can be manufactured that doesn't put a good chunk of Hastert's CD is another GOP leaning district.

Study a map. The district is bordered by GOP districts to the north, south and east.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-03-01 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: one exception
I know that, but you can still force him to either move, or lose his district, and either way, have to compete with an incumbent.
by cos 2005-03-01 07:52AM | 0 recs
remember LaHood and Hyde aren't running
Play with a map and try it.

Remember, Hyde's retiring and LaHood is running for gov, so Hastert could move toward Peoria or eastern DuPage County w/o having to compete with an incumbent Republican.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-03-01 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't fight partisan redistricting in kind
What makes you think that the "public" gives a rat's ass?  Reredistricting here in Texas was about the most disruptive bit of politics you've ever seen.  And what was the effect?  More seats for the Republicans.

Yes, reredistricting is an awful, stupid idea.  So what?  The general public is never going to understand the reasons why it's so bad and is never going to care enough to make it an issue.  So why disarm unilaterally?  Take back power and fix it then.

by kenfair 2005-03-01 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't fight partisan redistricting in kind
The public mostly doesn't know or follow technical issues like redistricting unless their district and congressman are threatened.  So as long as the Democratic party doesn't really fight it, the public at large won't notice.

However, "Democracy" is a powerful strategic initiative, in Lakoff terms.  If the Democratic Party puts forward a consistent vision of fair elections and better Democracy, and talks about it often and at all levels, I am convinced it will stick.

All else being equal, partisan redistricting is no less of an issue for people to notice and care about than a lot of the things Republicans have been successfully pushing since the Contract.  The Republicans know that they can't go after this issue by issue.  They need broad strategic objectives they can sell to the public, and then they can get their way on the individual pieces.  We need to be doing the same thing, and the Republicans have spent the past several years handing us the advantage on one of the best: Democracy and fair elections.  We just haven't taken up the mantle yet.  If we do, we can win big.

by cos 2005-03-01 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't fight partisan redistricting in kind
Americans share the principle of free and fair elections; no one's going to come out and say they're against free and fair elections.  The GOP isn't stupid; their folks will say, "Yes, we're for democracy and fair elections too."

To show why this isn't the case requires fact-based technical arguments that, unfortunately, most people will tune out as boring at best and loserly whining at worst.  The only way this is effective is if you can put together a drumbeat of outrage, not just among those who voted for the "loser," but also among a substantial fraction of those who voted for the "winner."  And let's face facts: right now, Americans are too complacent, we believe too much in the myth of American exceptionalism, and the media sure aren't helping disabuse us of this deeply cherished belief.

I'm not saying this is something that Democrats should ignore, or shouldn't fight for.  But right now we need clarity of purpose and easily-distinguishable message.  Facts are good, they're important, they're undervalued in America, but they don't make for a clear message.

by kenfair 2005-03-03 05:37AM | 0 recs
If we don't redistrict now, we lose.  We are already down quite a number of seats.  We can't afford to lose another dozen due to redistricting in Republican controlled areas.  The only way to counter that is to redistrict Democratic controlled areas.  A NATIONWIDE fair, nonpartisan redistricting plan would be good-but unless we do that, we must do slimy redistricting plans or we are fucked.  Period.
by Geotpf 2005-03-01 08:06AM | 0 recs
If they go after Georgia, we must fight back in Illinois. New Jersey is done by commission, so forget it. New Mexico and Louisiana are doable (so are West Virginia and North Carolina).
by raginillinoian 2005-03-01 06:57AM | 0 recs
Barrow's CD got even safer, not sure what that's about, as it went up in terms of blacks in the cd. I'd rather see Marshall run for Lt Gov. against Reed, who's got to be stopped.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-03-01 07:10AM | 0 recs
Go after Illinois.
Bush is right.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice--well, we shouldn't get fooled again.  This is actually the 3rd time, since the Colorado redistricting was thrown out under the CO Constitution.  I say go after Hastert just like DeLay went after the Texas 5.  At the very least, it will occupy the Illinois GOP on this issue.  

If the Dems don't, then the R's are just emboldened to try it other places.  If the Dems do in Illinois, but then wait to see if the R's try it again, that would be a good strategy.  Make it clear that this is tit for tat, but would be the end of it if the R's don't try it again.  If they do, pick another target.

by Mimikatz 2005-03-01 07:13AM | 0 recs
I would add
Lousiana to the redistricting.
by jj32 2005-03-01 07:28AM | 0 recs
If Repubs say we're doing something wrong
We must be doing something right.  Remember how they went on, along with the MSCM, about how Kerry was "electable?"

From the forthcomig book "Dem Strategy for Dummies":

  1.  If Repubs say we're making a mistake, we're on the right track.

  2.  If repubs say we're being reasonable, we're making a mistake.

  3.  If repubs snicker at a candidate (think Dean) they are afraid of him.

  4.  If repubs praise a candidate (think Lieberman) he's a loser and/or a spineless wimp.
by mjshep 2005-03-01 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: If Repubs say we're doing something wrong
Exactly, since when are your enemies going to give you advice that will help you beat them.

Just like Karl Rove said that he wanted Dean to be the Dems' nominee for president in '04, the question that every Democrat should have been asking themselves is "Why in the world would the enemy say that he wants this guy as an opponent?"

The answer is either the enemy thinks he can beat that particular opponent, or the enemy is trying to psych someone out by saying that.

by Andre Walker 2005-03-01 08:02AM | 0 recs
Only the second one makes sense
Why tell the other team you can beat thier guy, unless you think you can't beat thier guy, and want them to nominate somebody else you can beat.  Next time the National Review has the words, PLEASE NOMINATE THIS MAN on thier cover-do so. :-P


by Geotpf 2005-03-01 08:26AM | 0 recs
Disagree. It was simple: reverse psychology.
Convince democrats and the grassroots to think you are encouraging them to run an anti-war candidate only because you fear that candidate -- that way they might really run him.

But what you really want is a "most liberal" senator from massachussets with 20 years of voting history to mischaracterize to the public.

I mean come on. Karl Rove is an ass but he isn't a stupid ass. Of course he knows that dems are going to look suspiciously at whatever he "advises" them and do the opposite!

When I vote in GOP state primaries as an independent, I vote for the most flawed candidate...not because I like him/her but because it positions the opposition to win!

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-03-01 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: If Repubs say we're doing something wrong
That's pretty funny. Talk about an 'oppositional' strategy.

Of course what Democrats really need to do is focus on what's worked for them in the past, learn from what's working for the Republicans right now, and try to integrate the net roots into an effective overall strategy.  If the Republicans hate it that's some nice validation, but determining strategy based even partially on what Republicans 'say' is not the way to go.  

To the original post I agree with moving ahead on redistricting.  Sometimes fire needs to be fought with fire, and that time is now.

by jwmullis 2005-03-03 03:42AM | 0 recs
but why Boswell?
I don't get it. Boswell faced a pretty strong challenge in 2002, but he crushed the same challenger in 2004. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know it wasn't that close.

 In fact, the most depressing thing about the election for me personally as a volunteer was that Boswell carried Polk County (home of Des Moines and suburbs, roughly 15 percent of Iowa's total population) with a 26,000-vote edge, yet Kerry only won Polk County by 9,000 votes. That was the whole ball game, basically. Bush won Iowa by about 10,000.

by desmoinesdem 2005-03-01 06:17PM | 0 recs
Create an Above and Below the Line Farm Team
There are good Democratic candidates and good Democratic volunteers and personnel in even the  deepest, darkest of Orange County, CA. I've been there. Don't ditch them.
by Lemonsquare 2005-03-01 08:06PM | 0 recs
Those illusory hordes of non-existent voters
Convince democrats and the grassroots to think you are encouraging them to run an anti-war candidate only because you fear that candidate -- that way they might really run him.

Right, because if those hordes of anti-war voters who sat out the election had only voted, we would have won.

I have to say, I'm pretty damn tired of hearing this fantasy from our side -- we're supposed to be the reality-based community, remember?  The reality is that turnout was extremely high, other candidates who might have appealed to more liberal voters (Nader, Green Party) did poorly, and we lost by less than 3% of the popular vote.  What that means is that there were essentially *no* liberal, progressive or anti-war voters who could have provided a winning margin for Kerry.

What we needed was to appeal to more borderline voters, those who aren't automatically anti-war, who don't necessarily identify themselves as liberals or progressives, but who might have voted for Kerry (or another candidate) if they had been appealed to in a better way, say with a more populist message or with a candidate who was more personable.

Note that this is not, in my view, a reason to "move the party to the center" or to become "Republicans lite", but it is an argument for framing our issues in ways that appeal to a wider spectrum of voters.

by Ed Fitzgerald 2005-03-02 07:41PM | 0 recs
The Lesson of Count Every Vote
Just a thought -- in the 2000 fiasco, the Gore campaign eventually blundered into a reasonably principled stand -- a statewide recount on the basis of some uniform standard (the details of what standard are unimportant for the point I'm trying to make here) for divining voter intent.  This after critical days and weeks were squandered doing politics-as-usual, i.e. calling for selective recounts in various areas in which they thought a recount would be likely to result in a net gain, while fighting recounts that were thought likely to result in a net loss.  It would have been very interesting, and possibily a different outcome, if the Gore folks had come out in a major way, from the get-go, in favor of a uniform, statewide recount.

Well, on the redistricting question, I think there might be a similar lesson to be learned.  The lession would be: stop screwing around trying to game the system.  From were I'm sitting, it's clear which side is more adept at that, at least in recent Congressional history.

The party that came out for new, nationwide, uniform standards for composing Federal election districts (States Rights be damned!) would be a party I could respect.  I can't promise it would make me vote Dem, but it would certainly make it noticably harder for me to support my current leadership...

Of course, I might just be giving this advice hoping you'll do the contrary...or was it the reverse of the contrary...that would be following the advice....wait, now I'm confused!

by ReluctantRepublican 2005-03-03 04:14PM | 0 recs


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