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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Charlie Cook Waits by his TV for The Revolution

Posted by Bob Brigham

Charlie Cook looks at the OH-02 discussion at the (subscription only) National Journal. Mr. Cook ignores both the force of scale and the reality of post-broadcast politics.

Democrats would be wise to keep their own counsel in examining the implications because Cook's way we will lose one Tivo set at a time.

Democrats need to stop judging success on Election Day. We need to start judging success each and every day. This simple mindset change is critical in a post-broadcast environment. Out west, one question you hear in HQ is, "We winning?" Democrats need some West Coast Offense because the right investments now can catapult a tidal cycle. We need to stop The Fear from influencing decision making and start focusing on winning every single day in every district in every state. If we can make this simple mindset change before it is forced upon us, then we will win more elections. Stop compromising, play hard and start winning.

We need scalable message and finance structures. This will be the end of War Chest campaigning. If you have a scalable model, money sitting in the bank is money wasted. Cash flow campaigning, investment in the model. The force of scale will actually grow the TV budget and it will be up earlier.

Voters have free evening cell phone minutes, email, IM. Geographical barriers have been circumvented by technology. I don't want people to vote Democratic because of a 30 second ad, I want them to because somebody they respect talked with them. If we don't talk to everyone, how can we be sure we are connecting?

Here's what Cook says:

It's one thing for liberals and Democrats to tout a '50-state strategy' and aim to field candidates in every Republican-held district, but to expend limited resources on long-shot candidates only means that more-competitive candidates get less. Resources are finite and choices have to be made.

Cook's entire premise is based on outdated fundraising systems. Candidate call time is a not a scalable model. When the DCCC tells new candidates to go raise $100K if they want to talk, they are breeding fundraisers, not political leaders. We need candidates who are willing to get out of the call room and move every day with bold action and straight talk. We need candidates will who let their story be told and are focused on winning every day.

If you are the Democratic nominee for the United States Congress, you deserve to have a campaign. It isn't about buying TV in every race, it is about leaving no district behind. If you are the Democratic nominee, I think you should have a Campaign Manager. If you are the Democratic nominee, I think you need a Finance Director who can build a scalable fundraising movement. If you are the Democratic nominee, I think you need a Communications Director who can earn media and use technology to force message everywhere. If you are the Democratic nominee, I think you need a Field Director skilled in micro-targeting. If you are the Democratic Nominee, I think you need a Scheduler who will aggressively manage the most valuable resource in the campaign. Straight talk, bold action, fight every day and leave no district behind.

Cook goes on:

While many liberal bloggers have been critical of this DCCC regime as well as the House Committee under previous chairmen, the reality is that, had the DCCC gone on the air with advertising a week or two earlier, the NRCC would have double or tripled that spending and more importantly, kicked the Schmidt campaign into gear. Democrats' only hope was to come onto the radar screen late, and hope to sneak by. A full frontal attack would not have done nearly as well. Plus, Democrats, and Hackett, have certainly gotten themselves a great deal of positive press attention given that they came up short.

Again, Cook assumes that it is all about the 30 second ad, Cook assumes that is the only arrow in the DCCC's quiver. If we focus on winning every day, then we will never have to worry about coming in late. If we stop worrying about the 30 second ad, we can build scalable models that will result in more ads. If we build a nationwide, post-broadcast congressional communications network, then we can do more than talk at people on TV, we could connect.

We are going to need to do this sooner or later, I would prefer sooner.

Posted at 11:46 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Democrats, Netroots | Technorati


Very good point.

I think that this is also true of activists on the ground to stop thinking that way as well. There's way to much focus on election day instead of building up momentum.

Posted by: Ohio 2nd [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2005 12:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bob thank you for posting this. This is what I've been harping on ever since the November election.

How many people and especially Democrats, how many of them experienced their only contact with the Democratic Party through a TV ad? I know that if I hadn't reached out and volunteered, then that would have been my only contact.

We have got to take this party back to the block-by-block, and farm-by-farm level. We have got to get people to believe AND see that the Democratic Party is not a club or a brand or a label or any other marketing crap like when you make a choice between Coke and Pepsi.
People need to know that this is their PARTY. Just as people should know that we all ARE the government. And therefore when we all participate in the Democratic Party and in OUR government, we can create whatever kind of society we desire.
Are health care costs spiralling out of control? Then we'll use our collective power to fix it. We don't have to surrender control of our lives to "the market" or laissez-faire capitalism as Grover Norquist (and I suspect some in the DLC) would like. We can take control of our lives and our communities.

That's getting a little off-topic I guess. But it's all part of getting away from passive politics. Getting away from the 30-second ad mindset.

How about more money from the DCCC for on the ground canvassing instead of just TV ads?
If Paul Hackett had gotten as many Democratic votes as Sanders got in Novemeber against Portman in the rural Democratic eastern Counties, he would have won by 4,000 votes!

We know Democrats are out there. We're still the majority in this country after all. It's a matter of connecting with people, and getting them to be involved in political process so they know that they have the ability to take control of this country.

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2005 01:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

When the parties ceased to be nothing but fundraising machines to spend money on TV ads, and most people's "contact" with the party was a GOTV call on election day and tons of lame fundraising mailers the other 364 days of the year, the "Democratic Party" ceased being a party.

That suits a lot of people just fine. They also lose. They still think because they live in DC, and know some business lobbyist, they're in charge. They're not.

Until these basic facts set in and peopel realize, hey guess what? if you leave people to twist in the wind without some basics of at least TRYING to win, we'll forever be losers, and this country will be like Eastern Europe, circa 1965.

Kudos to Bob for stepping up and taking on the DC establishment that's lost more races than they've won, and who spend more time dictating consutlant hiring by candidates than really knowing how to DO anything.

Posted by: Greg Dewar - Schadelmann.com [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2005 07:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment