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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, January 19, 2004


The Lesson

posted by Dana at Monday, January 19, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Losing is hard. Losing the first race is harder. Losing when you thought you were going to win is hardest.

How did it happen? Some Tuesday morning theories:

1. Turnout. With 1601 of 1993 precincts reporting
attendance was 96476. The final number looks to be under 120,000. That's not a very big number. Dean's pre-caucus "hard count" was 40,000, that is, we expected to get at least 40,000 people into the caucuses. We got about 25,000.

2. Iowa Democrats bought the "Dean is not electable" meme. Sorry, they did. Kerry successfully spun his pro-war vote as candor, Edwards spun his good looks and positive outlook as winning, and the media relentlessly spun our passion as anger. Everything Dean tried in the last few days -- the Carter visit, Judy's visit to Davenport -- came off as desperate.

3. Iowans like outsiders, to a point. The meme that went out about the orange-hatted "Perfect Storm" volunteers was that they were "Perfect Stormtroopers." That's harsh, mean, false, but many of the people who caucused believed it.

4. Iowa eliminates people, but it doesn't select a nominee. A lot of Iowa Democrats wanted to make John Edwards and John Kerry viable. In the end I think our huge effort showed many Dean didn't need them, and they rejected Dick Gephardt.

This week we must find a way to beat the "Dean can't win" meme. The press is not going to let up. And, thanks to Iowa, Republicans will sleep well tonight, figuring the "circular firing squad" will destroy whoever the Democrats nominate.

All that said, remember that primaries are easier to participate in than caucuses. People have all day to vote. They can vote privately. We've got to get our people out, there and in the 7 states that vote a week later.

Just remember the stakes. Edwards and Clark have unilaterally disarmed against the Bush $200 million. Kerry is going to fight back with ketchup. This is the only campaign that can go toe-to-toe with the GOP through the summer.

That's how you beat the electability meme, in my opinion. That's the message we need to focus on, in my opinion. Democrats want to win, and we need to prove to them we can.


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About Nation-Building

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.