Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Only the Grassroots Can Save The Democratic Party

Only the Grassroots Can Save The Democratic Party
By Joe Trippi
The staggering defeat of the Democratic Party, and its ever-accelerating death spiral weren't obvious from the election results. Two factors masked the extent of the party's trouble. Without the innovation of Internet-driven small-donor fund-raising and a corresponding surge in support from the nation's youngest voters, John Kerry would have suffered a dramatically larger electoral defeat. And the true magnitude of the Democrats abject failure at the polls in 2004 would have been more clearly revealed.
Mr. Kerry raised nearly half of his campaign war chest over the Internet. He was so successful at online fund-raising that he actually outspent the Bush campaign in this election. But it was the outsider campaign of Howard Dean, reviled by most of the Democratic establishment, which pioneered the use of the Internet to raise millions in small contributions; Mr. Kerry was just the beneficiary as the party nominee.
And it was the risk-taking and aggressive Dean Campaign that forced the risk-averse Kerry campaign to opt out of the public financing system.
Had that decision not been forced on Mr. Kerry, he would have been badly outspent by George Bush; he would not have been competitive at all throughout the long summer of 2004.
Mr. Kerry's lead among young voters hid just how bad Election Day really was for Democrats. In the 2000 election, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 split their votes evenly; nine million each for Mr. Bush and Al Gore. But in 2004, two million more voters in this age group turned out to vote. And while Mr. Bush won the same nine million votes, 11 million voted for Mr. Kerry. But when we set aside his two million new younger voters, the true disaster of 2004 is revealed. In 2000, Mr. Gore and Ralph Nader won a combined total of 54 million votes. This year Mr. Kerry and Mr. Nader got 53 million (ignoring the two million new young voters).
It turns out that Mr. Kerry was a weaker candidate than Mr. Gore. Mr. Kerry lost so much ground among women, Hispanics, and other key groups, that the millions in Internet money, the most Herculean get-out-the-vote effort in party history, and the largest turnout of young voters in over a decade, could not save him. Had the young voters stayed home, the sea of red on the electoral map would have grown to include at least Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire-perhaps one or two more.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, received 50 million votes in 2000, and 59 million in 2004. He added nine million votes. That is because Karl Rove had a plan and the Bush campaign stuck to it. There is no doubt that they executed it brilliantly. But the problem for Democrats is not Mr. Rove; it is that they're doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. That's the definition of insanity....