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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Rahm Emanuel Blew Historic Opportunity

Over at Down With Tyranny, Paul Lukasiak uses four tables to lay out HOW RAHM EMANUEL LOST THE HOUSE FOR THE DEMOCRATS-- AND HOW ACTBLUE, MOVEON, MARKOS, JANE, DUNCAN, HOWARD DEAN AND A HOST OF OTHERS SAVED THE DAY. The whole thing is a must read, but here is the summary:

Despite all the praise being heaped upon Rahm Emanuel for the Democratic Party takeover of the House of Representatives, his strategy was a failure. The simple fact is that Emanuel's plan was to target 21 Republican seats as part of his Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" strategy, and as of right now, while Democrats needed to take 15 seats to regain control, only nine of those 21 DCCC picked seats have changed hands (three are still in contention). Most of these candidates were "hand-picked" by Emanuel, based on his perception of their prospects to win election---and most of them failed, often by significant margins-- and at great financial cost. [...]

In other words, out of 35 races that the DCCC targeted for conversion to the Democratic Party by early July, Emanuel only managed to find "winners" in 12 of them on his own-- at least five of his other victories were based on progressive bloggers providing the seed money that demonstrated that these were viable candidates. Moreover, the DCCC picks included at least 6 races where the challenger does not seem to have had a realistic chance of success-- in other words, Emanuel directed money to candidates that could have been better used elsewhere. [...]

By way of contrast, the two largest ActBlue affiliated fundraising groups supported nine winning candidates before the DCCC finally recognized their competitive nature-- and supported eight other progressive candidates that, had they had earlier and more substantial support from the DCCC, stood an excellent chance of winning their races.

The most significant failure of Emanuel's strategy was his inability to recognize until it was too late truly competitive races in which progressives ran against entrenched right-wing incumbents. His "fourth wave" candidates included Charlie Brown (-7000), Larry Kissell (-480), Eric Massa (-6000), and Victoria Wulsin (-2300) all were within reach of defeating some of the most noxious right-wingers in the House, yet were virtually ignored by Emanuel. Emanuel's fourth wave also included Jack Davis (who came within 5700 votes of unseating Foley-tainted Tom Reynolds-- had the DCCC invested in that race when the Foley scandal broke, it could have made the difference) and Larry Grant, who was vying for an open seat in Idaho, and lost by 12,000 votes against a far-right winger.

Hopefully, the next DCCC chair won't make the same mistakes. We are positioned for more seats in '08 and a 435 seat strategy will result in even more in following elections.

For example, it was nationwide news in 2005 when Paul Hackett came close in OH-02. But by firing up the local Democrats and softening up the Republicans, Vic Wulsin came far closer this year (and may still win).

With Emanuel retired from the DCCC, hopefully they will retire his strategies too.

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