We are four seats away from a majority in the Oregon House, which would give Democrats the trifects in Oregon government, and the first attempt in decades at a real, comprehensive progressive policy agenda.
There are loads of great challengers, too: Mike Caudle (Jonathan Singer's boss), Rob Brading, Brian Clem, Chris Edwards and Jean Cowan (possibly the only top-tier challenger who gives us the chance to cap a majority by replacing an anti-choice Republican man with a pro-choice Democratic woman) to just name a few.
I'm biased* here, but I think out best shot for a pickup is in House District 10, with Jean Cowan.
This is a Democratic district, but the incumbent is a rubber-stamp Republican who votes with the right-wing leadership 94% of the time. There is a 10-point Democratic registration edge (44/34/21) in the district, and Darlene Hooley, Peter DeFazio, and Ron Wyden do quite well here.
Jean is a 3-term Lincoln County Commissioner, and she ran for this seat in 2004. She lost by 414 votes, despite jumping in at the filing deadline and still working full-time as a County Commissioner. Now she is campaigning full-time, and has been since October of 2005, gaining support from EMILY's List, SEIU, Planned Parenthood and loads of other key progressive organizations. If you live in Oregon, you can help her out by joining the Bus Project's trip to the Central Coast.
GCI is a contracting firm. The DNC contract was as you described. The MoveOn contract is the one being addressed in this post. GCI moved lots of staff from the DNC campaign to the MoveOn campaign, so many folks have experience with both.
The organizing was recruiting, training, and mobilizing precinct volunteers to canvass their infrequent-voter neighbors and get them to the polls. Not an icky or trite goal at all, and one that I think is decidedly "grassroots." The problem is both that every single verb in that first sentence was an unbelievable can of worms and that we often went astray of the ends in devotion to arbitrary aspects of the means (oh, and as I have learned in this thread, that I am a blouse-wearing poodle walker).
...and a lot more to come, I presume. Hey, maybe Greg will turn out to be wrong, but it's obvious that he intends to write a series with this post as the first installment. What you are doing is the equivalent of walking out on the first act of a play because it lacked a dramatic climax.
You want non-antecdotes:
Ohio has (and has had for years and years) lots of little precincts compared to many other states, and many of these share polling places. The WAC--and the broader precinct-prioritization concepts employed by the campaign--still had no way to account for this when our two-day training convened in mid-September. The initial attempt to jigger the WAC for Ohio failed, and it wasn't functional until a couple weeks in.
The WAC's ability to load and process MoveOn member data for recruitment calling never got off the ground, leading to much of the deaht-by-spreadsheet in what was billed as a technologically fleet operation.
I did some amount (not a lot, and not in a leadership role--I don't want to overstate anything) of data-gathering for GCI's wrap-up project following this campaign. I won't talk about the data or the conclusions, because even if I don't like them I respect the professional confidence that I agreed to enter into. But I will say that in Ohio (a state which would have been nice to win, yeah?) any increase in turnout in our precincts did not exceed what could have been expected from all of us canvassing ourselves 10 hours per day instead of organizing for 18.
Ultimately, Matt, if you want a Chris-Bowers-esque empirical exposition of this campaign, you will probably not be satisfied by anyone. I'm sure that if Greg asked GCI for a list of the precincts they targeted in 2004, someone would die laughing, so we won't likely get a precinct-by-precinct breakdown. But the thing is, when you multiply it times 400 or 500, the plural of antecdote is data.
This is the first installment about the MoveOn campaign.
Greg is a prolific dude, to say the least.
Thus, we are likely to hear the details of the failure of the MoveOn campaign in subsequent posts.
The did fail. 99% of the people I knew who worked for them would agree, and 75% of the people I know who were still working for them on e-day would agree.
More broadly, I don't think that I completely bought Greg's conclusions about the the DNC campaign (I really like the general idea of a break-even "membership-style" canvass for a political party), though I don't dispute the evidence on which he based them. I've got a feeling, though, that I am going to agree with his analysis of the MoveOn campaign. I think it is important, though, to recognize that he has essentially two different theses, and he has only begun defending the one for which you (rightly, in a literal sense) note a lack of evidence.
They did not "do" a GOTV program, they hired an ill-prepared vendor to "do" it for them. Therein lies the Shruminess. It goes back to my bank analogy upthread: MoveOn is great, but they hired someone who didn't get the job done--and now they re-hired them for 2006!
I, like almost all the organizers I know from this campaign, still have a lot of respect for MoveOn. I just think they hired someone who did a bad job by them. I used to have a crappy bank, but I didn't hate myself. I just switched banks.
I think that giving "1s" to people with whom you simply disagree is an abuse of the rating system. I gave a "1" to "Democratic Courage" because he was making a pointless personal attack rather than presented a reasonable position.
I was in Ohio. Cincinnati. To call the technological and strategic meltdown "implementation issues" is like calling a drive-by shooting a "traffic incident." All but one of the organizers was "tough" enough to stay to the end, but not without knowing that much of our effort was going to waste.
The "1" rating is for piling macho crap onto the end of a post shilling the PIRG/GCI party line. I'm sure you're a really good organizer, Mr. Hurowitz (in all honesty, the PIRG lifers I meet always are), but you're apparently better at real grassroots than at astroturf.
I went on from working GCI busted-ass 2004 campaign--and even trying to work for them in 2005, because I think their professed mission is laudable--to continuing to work long hours on Democratic campaigns. I'm currently managing a targeted legislative race in Oregon, and I'll put my work ethic up against anyone's. Am I a sissy because I think GCI ran a stupid and ill-conceived campaign? Or am I just a few barfights away from attaining that sweet Doug Phelps wisdom?
I have also heard that explanation for the MoveOn/America Votes rift. One question, then: do you think MoveOn is confident that its members' privacy was protected from Telefund? And even putting that aside, that means that this campaign was about something other than winning the election for which we were purportedly turning out votes.
As for Justin Ruben, I'm sure he's a smart guy. I met him at a training and he was certainly very friendly and likeable. But you've got to look at the bottom line, and the intended lifeline of this campaign failed. Completely, unequivocally, and objectively. GCI was using the promise of the MoveOn campaign as a carrot for directors/organizers beginning at least in early June (when I heard it from Doug Phelps in Boston), so I have trouble looking at the WAC as a "last-minute" fix. Maybe I'm unfarily singling out Justin Ruben, but that would be because:
I've been waiting for the time when I say something in this ongoing conversation which really gets me on a progressive blacklist. Here we go:
The biggest problem with the MoveOn campaign--which was even more screwed-up than Greg describes, in my opnion--was the technology. The whole campaign was to be run through a brilliant innovation called the Web Action Center (or WAC). Well, the WAC crashed and burned and we ended up running the entire campaign through MS Excel spreadsheets, wasting hours of organizers' time every day. Here is the shittiest part: the WAC was designed not by a top web firm or old master of GOTV technology, but by Justin Ruben, Adam Ruben's (a senior MoveOn staffer) brother.
It is rough to watch such a robust and supposedly forward-looking campaign collapse under the weight of old-school nepotism. Among volunteers on the ground and among the emerging "next generation of operatives" MoveOn did a lot to hurt their own reputation and tarnish their brand with the GCI campaign. In addition to farming out the most important work of the campaign to a family member (a bad idea even in an enterprise far less demanding than a major political campaign), MoveOn also seceeded from the America Votes Coalition (presumably at GCI's behest) and ensured redundancy and ill-will with our "allie" organizations like ACT.
It is clear to me that Obama (who I do generally like) didn't grow up "secular" or as an atheist in an otherwise religiously homogenous environment. I don't know if I would say I felt "oppressed" when I was forced to say "under God" as a kid in school, but I sure as heck didn't feel like I was being treated in a way that conformed to the very same American principles they would teach us about in that same room. While it might currently be politically fashionable to pretend that no such kids really exist, that doesn't make it true.
I don't think that your comment should be thrown out whole-cloth, but I do wonder about the impact of losing that IL-1 race. I lived in the district at the time, and I thought Obama seemed great, but there ain't no way anybody was going to vote against Bobby. We're talking about Bobby Rush! That Obama got 30% of the vote was a victory. Am I to believe that Obama is super shaken-up after losing to an incumbent who is literally a hero to many of his constituents? There has to be a better explanation.