No more DC BS - Time for a line in the sand

The top down establishment campaign against Cegelis was successful, but Emanuel, Durbin, Obama, Clinton and Kerry look pretty crappy spending $35 a vote to ensure that the grassroots lost.

As long as there are no consequences, this will keep on happening. If you can't afford to walk away from the table you are going to lose the negotiations. The top-down attacks on the base followed by commands to fall in line for the general will continue until people stand up for themselves and our Party and say no to the bosses. The base needs to learn lessons from the Democrats in DC who get the crap kicked out of them for not standing up to the GOP, we need to stop the hand-wringing and worrying about how things will be perceived and do the right thing. Most of all, we need to reform the Democratic Party.

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I Am Very Worried About 2006

The Democratic primary in the IL-06 was not supposed to be close. I travel to DC often these days (in fact, I am about to leave for DC now), and from everyone I had talked to down there, I was told more or less the same thing: Duckworth will win this primary, and win it huge. I did not have access to the data they were using to make that assessment, but I also did not question it. A big Duckworth victory made sense. She had the support of every major elected Democrat in Illinois. She had the support of the DCCC. She was endorsed by every major union and progressive advocacy organization. She had more money. She had a lot more free media. In pretty much every measure I cold think of, she looked very strong. It seemed as though nearly every Democratic and progressive organization that works to elect Democrats and progressives was behind her. A few months ago, I floated the idea of the netroots getting behind Cegalis full-force to a few other bloggers, but after we had all heard pretty much the same stories on how Duckworth was going to cruise, we agreed it probably wasn't a very good idea. Better to focus our resources elsewhere.

Last night, however, something happened that made me extremely worried about our electoral prospects nationwide in 2006. Nearly the full-force of the Democratic and progressive electoral apparatus "succeeded" in only helping Duckworth win 44% of the vote in the Democratic primary. This wasn't the blow out I was told it was going to be. This wasn't the blowout I imagined it would be considering the establishment support Duckworth had. It wasn't even close to a blowout. It looks like the final margin will be somewhere around 1,000-1,100 votes. IT was very close, and it was a real nailbiter.

This makes me very worried about 2006. The same people and the same organizations who supported Duckworth remain in charge of winning elections of nearly every Democrat nationwide in 2006. If they produce anemic results like this in IL-06, what results can we expect across the country in November? Believe me, whatever group of rag-tag GOTV activists Cegalis had in this election, using their theocon grassroots, the Republican machine will more than match that nationwide in 2006.

We can't win if we continue to operate like this. The netroots and grassroots can't win by themselves, and the Democratic electoral establishment is hardly any better. At some point, there is going to have to be a way for us to work together, or we are just going to keep losing and losing and losing. We can't go on like this. We can't win without them, and they can't win without us. There has to be a way for us to work together, but that doesn't mean just treating the netroots like an ATM, not even mentioning the name of our candidates on official literature, or simplistic, authoritarian demands that we all "fall in line." There is an activist class war taking place in the Democratic Party--I can see it even happening in my own neighborhood. Those who currently hold sway over the movement better recognize that it is happening as well, and they better be willing to work with the people who make their position possible. We can't simply continue to be told to go back and keep toiling in the volunteer activist salt mines. Something needs to be done to solve this mess. I'm sure there are thing that both sides can do, but the overwhelming onus to fix this situation and create some sort of détente rests on those people who currently control the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. You have to find a way to show us that you care, that you appreciate our efforts, and that you are willing to work together. My suggestion from last night probably won't fly, but whatever the solution is, the ball is in the court of the establishment, and they need to think of something.

IL-06 Pre-postmortem

This is still a very close election, and it's not over. I do, however, at some point have to go to bed. The current projections look like a very, very narrow edge for Duckworth, but that could change. But if it doesn't, I received this almost piece of analysis via email from a source of mine who will remain anonymous:This is a complete validation of everyone who claimed Christine had a massive ground game.

Tammy Duckworth had an unbelievable amount of free media ... they are even doing it tonight on the WGN (Chicago) coverage starting off coverage of the race with a 3 minute story about Tammy's heroism. It's been article after article, even Nightline did a national piece the night before the election.

Tammy got all three major newspaper endorsements -- Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily Herald.

John Kerry raised a 1/4 million dollars in an email. Hillary Clinton had a fundraiser for Tammy. Dick Durbin raised money for Tammy, taking her around to Chicago and D.C. donors personally. Obama raised money for Tammy. Rahm raised money for Tammy.

Tammy probably outspent Christine at least 6 or 7 to 1.

We'll find out if the DCCC put in any Independent expenditures.

And Christine had a rag-tag group of DFAs and grassroots organization who fought this tooth-and-nail -- they protested when it started and naysayers said her support was a myth and blown out of proportion. They floated some bullshit 22% polling edge that Duckworth had -- she obviously didn't.

This was truly grassroots on-the-ground vs. powerful influence of state powerbrokers like rahm and durbin vs. people on the ground. And they held it close.

People in the 6th have a real reason to be pissed -- the activists that do the dirty work all loved Christine BEFORE this happened, and they will all love her AFTER. They completely invested of themselves, and came up just short.

Tammy is now going to have to buy the election, because party activists might very well be bitter -- a 800 vote loss is pretty tough to swallow.

Christine literally fought the ENTIRE Democratic machine, in the House and Senate .... it was them vs. people on the ground that actually believed in a candidate .... and they came up just short. No matter what happens, I think this close result shows the following:
  • Believing in a candidate is a lot more effective than either believing in an "electability profile" or working to defeat another candidate. The Cegalis true believers kicked ass.

  • The Democratic establishment is weak. I haven't seen this much establishment support line up against someone since Dean. Considering the massive amount of fundraising, big name support, advocacy group support, free media, and direct DCCC contributions, Duckworth will finish way, way under 50%. The Democratic and progressive establishment, even the vaunted Chicago machine, is clearly losing the ability to control and influence its own base.

  • Strong ground games in primaries and other low turnout elections work. Ciro's ground game in TX-28 was weak. Hackett's in OH-02 was strong. Lamont's ground game in CT could result in an enormous surprise.
Hold your heads high Cegalis supporters. The Dem establishment that tried to swing this election is going to wish they had you after Labor Day. You were the equal of literally their entire bag of tricks. I wonder if this will make them reconsider whether they should have thrown all of their resources in a different direction. It should be pretty clear that combining their resources with your activism would have made this a very, very winnable district, but they decided they could do this on their own and didn't need you. Now, if I were a Cegalis activist in IL-06, I would think long and hard about whether I would do anything besides vote in November. If they think they can do this without your activism, I'd be very tempted to just say "fine, go ahead and see if you can."

At the very least, I, for one, would hope that this does at least some damage to the "Rahm Emmanuel is hyper-effective" meme for a long time to come. It hard to imagine how anyone could have fucked up a district worse than this. Well done man--you built an utterly ineffective political operation in the area and simultaneously embittered every grassroots activist who could have helped breath some life into that operation. This just gives me loads of confidence for November.

Update: I stand corrected. Charlie Wilson in OH-06 remains the ultimate district fuck-up, and porbably will even until the ending of the world. Maybe this is just second place.

March MyDD Straw Poll

The March straw poll is up. Go vote. I have added "other" to the list of options, which hopefully will satisfy the Gorebots. If that isn't good enough, then they can read the TAP cover story on Gore, written by Ezra Klein.

This poll will close in 48 hours, so if you want to vote, do it now. I shortened the voting period because, a few weeks ago, I started realized that the straw polls here and on Dailykos were actually making news outside the blogosphere. By shortening the voting period, I hope to cut down on poll stuffing, which in the past I have openly tolerated (even encouraged). I figure that if we are going to make news, we better at least try to be accurate, even if accuracy in the news isn't what it used to be.

Also, you can vote in the Dailykos straw poll here. Also, Dailykos has leadership approval polls up on Dean, Reid, and Pelosi. Vote in all of them.

Go vote in the MyDD straw poll. I will have updates on the poll, including breakdowns of past results, over the next two days.

The Emergence of a New Progressive Conventional Wisdom

The production of conventional wisdom is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in the ebb and flow of the American political scene. While it is certainly not the only factor that determines political outcomes, investing in the political infrastructure that has the ability to shape and alter conventional wisdom within the DC political industrial complex in a manner favorable to your cause can result in an almost immeasurable return on your investment. When the vast majority of talking heads on television and radio, along with the vast majority of elected officials and high level consultants seem to repeat your talking points and voice your desired appraisal of the political environment at any point in time, in many ways you have won any political battle before it began.

For example, we all saw this last week when almost everyone in DC, Republicans and Democrats, elected officials and political commentators, staff members and political consultants all agreed, long before any polling data came out, and even before there has been any substantive public debate on the topic, that Feingold's censure move was both motivated by his desire to run for President and highly unpopular nationwide. It was astonishing to witness how almost every single establishment voice in DC immediately agreed with these two basic ideas. The conventional wisdom almost immediately closed around Feingold in a strongly negative fashion, and polls on the subject demonstrate the impact this had. In particular, look at the Newsweek poll on censure that came out this weekend:Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. March 16-17, 2006. N=1,020 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (for all adults).

"As you may know, Senator Russ Feingold has called for Congress to censure, or formally reprimand, President Bush over the issue of his warrantless wiretapping program. Censure is a way for Congress to express strong disapproval of a President's actions without going so far as impeachment. Would you support the censure of President Bush by Congress, or not?"
(Support / Wouldn't Support)
All: 42 / 50
Dems: 60 / 30
Inds: 42 / 51
Reps: 20 / 75

"Do you think Feingold and other Democrats who support censuring Bush are doing it more for partisan political advantage, or more because they believe it is the right thing to do?"
(Partisan / Right Thing to Do)
All: 53 / 33
Dems: 33 / 51
Inds: 55 / 31
Reps: 79 / 14 This is one of the most illuminating polls I have seen in a while. First, it shows that Feingold's censure resolution wasn't nearly as unpopular as the pundrity implied. While the country was slightly more against it than for it, in the same poll Bysh's job approval rating was 36% approve, 58% disapprove. In other words, Feingold's move was more popular than Bush

Second, and more importantly, the poll shows just how effective DC conventional wisdom on a breaking news story is at shaping public opinion. While those opposing censure held only an eight point edge on those favoring censure, those believing that Feingold acted to bolster his standing with in the Democratic Party have a twenty-point edge on those who believe he acted out of conscience. Because those who buy into the DC conventional wisdom have tremendous control over the communication apparatus that helps to create the national conventional wisdom, their cliquish beliefs that Feingold was acting to bolster his 2008 prospects quickly became the national CW. In fact, this message was so powerful that over 20% of the people in the poll who support the censure of Bush also believe that Feingold was acting primarily to bolster his 2008 prospects. With both Democrats and Republicans, consultants and staffers, elected officials and pundits all simultaneously voicing the same opinion on Feingold's motives, the narrative triangle was closed around Feingold, and DC conventional wisdom became national conventional wisdom. Suddenly, perhaps the most principled man in DC became yet another merely calculating politician, all because that is what a small clique of people in DC thought of what he did..

However, at almost exactly the same time, I noticed something else of great interest. In my frequent talks with other bloggers, and in the immense amount of time I spend reading other blogs, it finally dawned on me last week that the netroots has developed its own, entirely separate conventional wisdom. Almost universally, people were in favor of Feingold's action. Almost universally, we discerned that the Democratic strategy in DC was simply to step aside and let the Republicans implode. Almost universally, we agreed that was a really poor strategy. It surprised me how quickly we were all on the same page on virtually every facet of the censure issue. We have developed out own ability to manufacture and alter conventional wisdom, and to transmit that conventional wisdom within our own little confined world: the netroots and the blogosphere.

Much more on this in the extended entry.

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