Thursday, November 5, 2009

About Tuesday Night

The Caucus Blog over at the New York Times gives an overview of post-mortems following Tuesday's elections. One aspect of Tuesday’s election loss in Virginia likely to be overlooked is the quality of the Democratic field program. Ignoring Virginia’s organizational failings, however, will prove disastrous for the Democratic Party over the long-term.

To be sure, there are many factors that played a significant role in Deeds’ defeat. He was a poor candidate from the outset; the political climate works against democrats—the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a persistent recession only showing signs of improvement very recently, the drawn-out and unrealized healthcare reform process—and a hangover from the long 2008 presidential campaign.

Organizationally, however, the Virginia Coordinate campaign represents an epic failure of leadership. Following the Virginia Democratic Primary, many of the senior field positions were filled by veterans of the Obama for America campaign. These individuals, by virtue of their sweeping success in the 2008 presidential and primary campaigns, had excellent claims to these roles. However, their involvement with the Obama for America campaign was not necessarily indicative of their personal abilities. Indeed, the electric quality of their candidate, President Obama, deprived them of the challenges familiar to organizers in the past—challenges that teach organizers how to organize and separate those that are able to build effective machines and those that are not.

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