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January 08, 2006

On the Ground with Republicans and Democrats

"The most surprising difference between the two parties is how open the Republicans are about what they are up to, and how Democrats keep their plans hidden.", says Matt Stoller of mydd.com.  "I have never seen a more closed bureaucratic organization than the Democratic National Convention Committee.  The Republican organization, by contrast, worked like clockwork."  He gives personal examples from 2004.  He goes on to talk about the advantages that a smoother, smarter organization and a penchant for political theatre gives them in building the base.

It's relevant now since the Republicans could easily use these tactics to spin away the corruption and spending scandals that we Democrats are counting on to work to our advantage this year:

Right now, there are a bunch of Republicans trying the 'we're not those Republicans' playbook - McCain is the most prominent, but the wingnut caucus in the House is there too with their whining about the government spending they have enabled.

Unfortunately, it brings to mind a conversation I had recently with someone who works for the State Democratic Party.  We got into a discussion about the State Party Voterfile, related to a piece I'd written on how much Paul Berendt had done for us and how much still needed to be done. 

This person insisted that the issues of inaccurate voter lists that people reported over and over in 2004 were due to individuals not doing the right thing.  The system worked fine.  I said that everything I knew about systems was bigger than just the technology piece.  It included the training, the follow-up, the entire process from beginning to end, not just how well the technology itself worked.  If you want something to work, you make sure each part works and that the parts work together.  Next this person talked about a lack of money.  That I could understand and I know that upgrading the Voterfile is a top priority for the Party.  However, I really hope that the understanding of systems changes.  Otherwise, more money isn't going to help as much as it should.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 8, 2006 at 08:24 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink


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I blogged this. Great point about the data file.

Posted by: Matt Stoller | Jan 9, 2006 1:37:04 PM


It's hard to write about something the Democrats don't seem to be doing so well. I've watched you do that a time or two and appreciated your candor and straight-forwardness. I get concerned I'll be seen as not being loyal still. I have a beloved older friend, Sally, who's been a progressive her entire life and she keeps saying, "Don't tell people that. We don't want to let them see our weakness." And I respond by saying, "they know anyway". And until we understand it and are willing to look at it and work to remedy it, we are at the mercy of Republicans being foolish. That won't last forever.

Posted by: Lynn | Jan 9, 2006 8:17:54 PM

Well there's a cost to keeping things secret, as well as a value to doing so. We just overestimate the value of secrecy and underestimate the cost of it.

Posted by: Matt Stoller | Jan 10, 2006 9:33:51 PM

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