POLL: 'Not GOP' Electability vs Bold Action on Issues

There has been a great discussion of whether the "not GOP" campaign will work in the 2006 elections. Will unmotivated Democrats rush to the polls to vote for people who can only clain to not be the GOP.

In 2004, we looked to Montana as a state that was doing it right. Let's look to Montana again today, and also look at what has been happening during the last year of the senate race.

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Feingold Makes a Serious Move Toward Running in 2008

Apart from the TX-28 election, this has been a fairly slow week. However, I have to say that this caught my eye: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has recruited veteran party operative Paul Tewes to help him begin the long process of courting Iowa voters.

Tewes, who served as the political director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2004 cycle, is on a trip to the Hawkeye state right now as he seeks to develop a plan for Feingold to help candidates in the upcoming 2006 election. He is working on a volunteer basis for Feingold, according to an informed Democrat.

Feingold is beloved by many on the party's ideological left for his lonely opposition to the Patriot Act and his 2002 vote against the Iraq war. He is hoping to tap into the fundraising and organizational energy that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean used to catapult himself from obscurity to the top of the 2004 presidential field.

Tewes is an experienced Democratic strategist with ties to Iowa -- he ran Al Gore's field operations in the state during the 2000 presidential caucus. He also has close connections to Feingold, having run the 1998 Wisconsin coordinated campaign when the senator narrowly won reelection over then-Rep. Mark Neumann (R) I don't think that I have exactly kept my preferences for Feingold a secret around these parts (and if I had kept it a secret, then it isn't a secret anymore). I have no special information on whether or not Senator Feingold will run for President, but I have to say that this is news that excites me very much.

Since I am sure that more than a few people will bring it up in the comments, I would like to mention that over the past year or so, I have frequently thought about the potential challenges a Feingold campaign would face. The most obvious of these challenges would be to face the onerous "electability" process question that the established news media, the party and progressive establishment, and even party and progressive grassroots force any "outsider" candidate to answer. In Feingold's case, the question would be phrased along the lines of "can a recently divorced Jew known for unusual and left-wing stances wint he Presidency?"

For what it is worth (which is technically nothing, since I am not getting a dime form Feingold or his PAC), I have my own answers to this question. You will find them in the extended entry.

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The Spectre of "Electability"

The following short essay evolved out of a conversation on electability over in the 'progressives' community on livejournal.com, but I thought people here might have some interesting discussion. There, people were basically saying "Clinton and Kerry lead the polls for '08,""electability will suck in the Democrats and we'll lose again,""Democrats are all DC beltway controlled and I'm leaving the party."

I stood up to call for progressives not to scatter, but unite. I also think I touched on just why "electability" has become so anathema, and more importantly, why it seems to completely backfire. Thanks for reading.

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The Role of Electability In the Republican Noise Machine

Vote in the MyDD February Straw Poll

Looking through the Dailykos comment thread that was attached to the latest Dkos straw poll results, I started seeing an old topic of conversation rear its ugly head again: "electability." This was a topic that dominated the online discussion regarding the Democratic presidential primary in 2003, specifically in relation to Dean vs. anyone. In fact, it was a discussion that apparently dominated the off-line world as well, as somewhere between 35-40% of the Democratic primary electorate identified "electability" as their number one issue in 2004.

While I am sympathetic to those who would argue that "electability" should not be a factor in who someone supports in a primary, I cannot say that I believe "electability" should play no role whatsoever. Besides, even if I did believe that "electability" should not be a factor, there is really no way to ever keep it from being a factor. As I already noted, a huge percentage of the Democratic electorate votes based on electability, and electability has played a major role in Presidential primaries since at least Eisenhower in 1952. Whatever opinion we may have of the value of electability, it simply is not going away as a factor in primaries, especially presidential primaries.

Given this, I believe the important thing for Democrats when it comes to electability is to work as hard to possible so as to make sure that Democratic candidates who are defined as "electable" are not defined as such because of their relationship to Republican narratives about Democrats. Most media pundits, and many Democrats, already do severe damage to the progressive and Democratic causes by filtering out progressive narratives and reifying Republican narratives. The always brilliant Peter Daou, who I think I have non-sexual crush on, describes this in a recent post (emphasis in original):

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