On Saturday, I was at a meeting in Washington DC. where both Mitch Stewart, the Director of Organizing for America, and Democratic National Committee chair Gov. Tim Kaine laid out the strategy for the midterm elections.
I attended the meeting as a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, which is the NYS branch of the DNC’s National Democratic Lawyer’s Council and the associated Voting Rights Institute. I occupy several positions and offices in NYDLC including National Committeewoman and Long Island Regional Co-Chair, so I’m fully disclosing I’m in the tank for the DNC.
As a big fan of Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy, I went there with some trepidation and was very much afraid it would be dismantled after Gov. Dean left the DNC.
The Four Prong Democratic Plan For 2010
The GOP’s midterm strategy is rather silly, and involves bringing back the Contract with America. I got a news flash for you, the GOP succeeded that year because they were swimming in GOPAC cash and GOPAC media training, not because voters believed in the Contract with America.
I was very cheered to hear Gov. Kaine not only praise the 50-State Strategy, but announce that he wants to expand upon it. Gov. Dean, had you been there I think you would have been smiling.
Kaine and Steward laid out their plan for 2010:
1) The DNC will put $50 million into either direct cash contributions to or paid-for programs on behalf of Dem candidates.
The good news is, DNC fundraising appears to be going well.
2) The expenditure will be heavily weighted toward field rather than media buys.
During his luncheon remarks Gov. Kaine made the point that many of us have been howling in the wilderness for years. If you spent all the campaign’s money on ad buys, the money is gone when the campaign is over and if you didn’t win, you have nothing to show for it. But if you spend the money building local organizations, getting your grass roots out, win or lose this cycle, you still have a functioning apparatus to build on for next cycle. Even though it is still early in the cycle, there are already 250 field organizers disbursed throughout the 50 states. For once, we seem to be starting early.
3) Heavy targeting of first time 2008 voters.
There were 15 million first-time voters in 2008, or “surge” voters. The demographic study shows that they are predominantly young, minority, and/or new Americans. The goal is to increase their turnout by 8-12% over what you would normally expect in the off year.
Here’s what I did not hear: I did not hear whether or not these first time 2008 voters had been polled to see if they still love us (I use the royal “us” to denote some combination of Dems/Obama). During the campaign, expectations were raise extremely high, that it is impossible for me to believe that there has not been some let down, some buyer’s remorse.
Might they be mad at us because there is no single payer? Because EFCA is DOA? Because DADT was not repealed the first week of the new administration? Because everybody didn’t get a real live unicorn for Christmas? I think before I ran out to target one group that does not have a long track record of voting my way, I would want to just double-check that they were still on my side. On the other hand, I am a lawyer and therefore cautious by nature. YMMV.
4) Protecting voters from intimidation by the Tea Parties.
I have not heard of any plan to frighten voters away from the polls and am not 100% sure what this last prong will mean in actual practice. I do know that there were some scary moments during last summer’s town hall meetings, and certainly no one would want to see anything like that going on at a polling place, but I am currently not aware of any groups threatening to do that.
So, a little shout out to any of our readers who were 2008 first time voters: Do you still believe? Are you going to vote Dem again in 2010? What do you want included in the Dem midterm platform? Come on now, it’s time to delurk and let yourselves be heard. I, for one, am dying to know how you feel.
[Ed. Note: a slightly different version of this post appeared earlier today on The Seminal.]