Monday, July 07, 2003
One critique in the article stands out however - their observation that the Meetup crowd is highly homogenous:
These meetups are evidence of the enthusiasm out there for the former Governor — enthusiasm the other campaigns can only envy. They are also evidence of a homogeneity among those enthusiasts. In San Rafael, Calif., last Wednesday, 75 attendees packed the back room of the Limelight restaurant. There were veteran campaigners and neophytes, a few Kerry supporters willing to be convinced and even a couple of Republicans angry at Bush — but not a single non-Caucasian. An ethnic-outreach subcommittee was swiftly announced.
The questions now are whether Dean can broaden his support and whether the Internet is just a boutique fund-raising tool or one that can generate actual votes.
This same issue was addressed on Eschaton recently, in response to a piece in the WaPo:
But had Meetup.com helped Dean reach new constituencies, such as African Americans, other ethnic communities, working class people, non-liberals? Not based on what I saw. Without the Internet, it was likely that Dean would find support among affluent, white, liberal professionals. With the Internet, he attracted affluent, white, liberal professionals who spent a lot of time online. Meetup.com was just a continuation of politics by other means.
But the Internet can't become a substitute for the gritty, difficult work of true grass-roots campaigning in diverse ethnic and socio-economic communities. As it stands, Meetup mostly preaches to the choir.
However, our own Jerome Armstrong has some rather solid counter-points:
If Dean is drawing across the board white people, more males than females, HELLO DC DEM ESTABLISHMENT, this is exactly the vote that the Democrats need more of to win in November!
I don't disagree with Gownder assessment. I'd just point out that if you look at the traditional turnout model for caucuses, this group has not been there. Sure, you could argue that Hart or Tsongas, maybe even Brown, and certainly McCain had elements of it, but nothing near what Dean has in place, not anywhere near this amount of national organization, and we still have months to go before the voting happens.
The primaries in the southern and midwest states are where Dean's campaign needs work on reaching to overcome the problems laid out by Gownder.
However, those are mostly general election concerns, not the nomination. That's the main flaw of his argument. Gownder's laid out a good case for why Dean needs to broaden his appeal to win the general, but applied it to his first need-- winning the nomination-- where it will work.
What do you think - how can we make sure that the next Meetup has a broader base of minority support? And what kinds of outreach are you planning? Or did you not have this problem at your meetup?
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Obama 2008 - I want my country back
Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.