Earlier today at YearlyKos, the Democratic Party's plan for winning the 2008 ground game was presented to interested activists, bloggers, and members of the media by the DNC's new political director, David Boundy.
The Democrats' number one priority is to "organize everywhere," an unsurprising fact to anyone familiar with DNC Chairman Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy. The second priority is to "count everything," which means that any get-out-the-vote (GOTV) tactic from this point forward must be measurable. Boundy asked how many people in the room had held up signs on a freeway. Several attendees raised their hands. "How many votes do you think you got from that?" he asked. No one answered, some laughed nervously. "We're not doing that anymore."
Boundy claimed that local activists constantly approach him with new widgets that improve canvassing or direct mailing. He responds to them, "How do you know?" "Well," they say, "we used it in my state and we won three state senate seats." But if the local organizer can't prove quantitatively that his or her widget was responsible for victory, Boundy isn't interested in working with them. "If I don't know how I'm going to gain votes from what you are doing, I'm not going to do it," he said. "You can work with someone else. Hopefully the Republican Party."
If the party/D.C./establishment arrogance inherent in any of this rubbed the people in the room the wrong waythey were, after all, local activists, who probably thought they were helping the party by developing new tools in the absence of institutional supportit was washed away by the sense that the Democrats are finally getting their act together and developing a GOTV machine that rivals Karl Rove and the Republicans.
Building that machine anewand Boundy admits it is a work in progressinstead of using a holdover from 2000 or 2004 likely has serious advantages because the rules have changed since even a few years ago. Cable and TiVo have reduced the importance of television advertising, satellite radio and mp3 players have lessened the impact of radio ads, and caller ID and cell phones have damaged the power of robocalls, push polls, and other forms of direct phoning. (The cell-only generation is a factor here: 15 percent of Americans don't have landlines; in the mid-30s-and-lower age demographic, that number raises to 40 percent.)