Will The DCCC And DSCC Flop Again?
Following up on Paradox’s post below, we are now about eight weeks out from the midterms. Even to stupid center-left bloggers, the White House and GOP plans are quite clear and have been for a while:
1. Tie the Iraq war to the war on terror to deflect criticism for their unwavering support for the disaster in Iraq;
2. Hammer Democratic opposition as appeasement, confusion over who the enemy is, and a treasonous lack of patriotism;
3. Aside from those two “nationalizing” themes, run every race as a local referendum on how good the known GOP incumbent has been for the district as compared to the unknown and unqualified Democrat opponent; and
4. Smear the Democrat early, setting the negative framing in place, and then seal the deal with thousands if not millions in RNC and corporate-funded ads the last six weeks of the campaign.
There is no mystery here, as this is the same playbook that was used in 2004. Democrats have known for months that the GOP would use a blend of nationalizing the "Iraq=war on terror" message with the localizing “who’s your daddy” angle.
In response, when running against a familiar GOP incumbent and in an environment of negative public opinion on the war, the war on terror, the direction of the country, and economic conditions, Democrats were obligated to do several things:
1. Nationalize each challenge against a vulnerable GOP incumbent using succinct, easy to understand messages on the four issues above plus Social Security and oil company and drug company control over the GOP;
2. Paint the GOP incumbent's lockstep support for Bush’s failed policies as playing into the hands of the terrorists, confusion over how to fight and win this war, wrongly crippling the war against terrorists by dragging us down in Iraq, and question their patriotism;
3. Aside from those national themes, run every race against a vulnerable GOP incumbent as a local referendum on whether or not constituents are better off now than they were six years ago, and help voters understand that a vote for the GOP incumbent is a vote for a rubber-stamping continuation of policies that harm the district and its residents; and
4. In those races where the Democratic challenger was known, use the summer and August recess as the time to set the negatives against the vulnerable GOP incumbents before the GOP’s negative messaging against the Democratic challenger can gain traction, and use that time to tell voters about the GOP incumbent’s upcoming campaign attacks to undermine those attacks then they come. And while you are at it, remind voters that if they reelect the vulnerable GOP incumbent, they are voting for the destruction of Social Security, our military, and our homeland security.
Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC have seemingly done none of these things. Oh, Rahm has written a book, and Rahm has bashed Howard Dean repeatedly for not suspending the 50-state strategy to redirect the DNC’s money into Emanuel’s field operation. Similarly, Chuck Schumer has spent his time raising money and it appears little if any of it making sure that our known candidates in key races have the support and national messaging help against the vulnerable GOP incumbents. Plus, it doesn’t look like either the DCCC or the DSCC have done much to use any of the millions they have raised to develop even a shadow of the voter-targeting operation that the GOP has used since 2000, instead choosing to bash Dean for not giving his money to them. And to make it worse, neither Emanuel nor Schumer have convinced Democratic big foots that they know what to do, forcing the likes of Harold Ickes to form another 527 outfit way too late in this cycle, when these efforts should have been mapped out and set in motion between the DNC and the committees months ago. Instead, while the House GOP lets out a sigh of relief over their November prospects, Emanuel spends his time jockeying for a majority whip position that his failures guarantee will never materialize.
So when the dust settles on November 8th or 9th, and the Democrats see that they came close to retaking the Senate with a net four-seat pickup, and barely picked up 15-16 seats in the House when they should have had 25, who will the DSCC and DCCC blame? That’s right: Howard Dean. But did Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer do their part by understanding early in the summer the four things the GOP would be doing and implement the four things they needed to do themselves?
Nope. And if you are Howard Dean, and see that the national committees dropped the ball once again, why would you stop your 50-state strategy for 2008 just to help bankroll the latest Beltway consultant-driven failure?