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I was disheartened reading a number of self-flagellating Busby diaries and comments yesterday.  Yes, she lost and we wish that she won.  Nobody said taking back the House was going to be easy.  It's not the time to lament about Busby being an imperfect candidate or complain about the Republican noise machine.  Those are realities of hardball politics.  It's time to use the Busby loss as a learning experience for November and repeat what Democrats did right and change what Democrats did wrong.

The following article in the New York Times outlines some areas to think about.  On the good side, CA-50 was

"...about as friendly ground as they [Republicans] are likely to find in the months ahead. This was never considered a truly contested district, and most of the districts where both parties are focusing their energy and money are less reliably Republican than this one."
 CA-50 is a proof that the 50 State Strategy works.  The RNC had to pull out all the stoppers and spend $5M to hold onto a `safe-seat.'  That's $5M that they won't have in November.

"Republicans will be hard-pressed to duplicate that expensive and elaborate campaign they waged for Mr. Bilbray in every district where an incumbent is under assault."
With all of that, they only squeaked out a 49% victory.
Now, onto what we're up against:
Republicans demonstrated yet again their ability to raise more money than Democrats and to deploy the get-out-the-vote and absentee-vote operation developed by the Republican National Committee.
The committee's chairman, Ken Mehlman, said Wednesday that Republicans had 160 people in this district helping to get out the vote.
"They made 164,000 phone calls," Mr. Mehlman said.
Democrats said the Democratic National Committee had no similar effort on the ground here.
Mr. Mehlman said the victory also "showed the importance of turnout and the power of grass roots."
I would also add that the Republicans have the advantage in exploiting gaffes - as they have a honed media distribution network of radio and newspaper operatives.
The Republicans learn from their mistakes,
"I saw in 2000 when the Democrats came in with the big-labor bosses and just pummeled me and there was no help from any of the party people," he said. "This time they came in. They are on the top of their game. I could never ask for more support than what I got."

However, why didn't the Democrats have get-out-the-vote telephone banks?  Geez, my local school district candidates do that.  It's something to do for the races in November.  

Originally posted to jpeskoff on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 05:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Similar diary ... (0+ / 0-)

    Posted here yesterday but more in the context of the Janet Reilly / Fiona Ma race for State Assembly in the Bay Area: “Janet Reilly’s Real Win in San Francisco.”

    Grok Your World
    grok: to understand something in a deep and empathic way

    by John Driscoll on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 05:53:50 AM PDT

  •  Nagourney's a genius, CA-50's a moral victory ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daria g, jpeskoff
    ... and what else did we learn from this experience?

    When the RNC flew 100 staffers into CA-50, Kos declared victory. It was our proof of GOP "panic" as Busby was pulling away.

    Wednesday, poster after poster used the same district data they had Monday to prove we never had a chance.

    If we never had a chance, why was this race on the dailyKos netroots short list? To run the RNC out of money? Please. Special elections are special, and they're spent big on both sides with no regrets.

    They spent big and won, we spent big and lost. That gives them bragging rights, "momentum", fundraising and recruiting advantages, and latitude of operation in other contests and contest/issue trade-offs. They are very happy with what they spent and what they got for it, thank you.

    One week out, this race was a tossup - a very winnable race from either side of the table. They played better, and won. They always play better ... maybe because they don't play for moral victories.

    CA-50 was a story of superior execution, in every phase of the game.

    MoveOn phonebanked into CA-50 from all over the US, and Busby volunteers wandered around in the dark all over the district, some damning their candidate with faint praise. Meanwhile, the RNC exploited its 10-year lead in voter ID, targeting and mobilization.

    Before we can execute, we have to admit that execution matters ... and then it'll take us ten year to catch up ... and during that time the RNC will have stepped up their game.

    "The Democrats: Losing, and feeling good about ourselves"

    None Dare Call It Stupid!

    by RonK Seattle on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 07:40:11 AM PDT

    •  PS - the '$5M they won't have in November'? (0+ / 0-)
      Oh, yes they will, and more.

      This win -- and its decisive margin -- improves RNC and NRCC fundraising prospects (and their relative fundraising prospect) immensely.

      Donors give to winners. This race moves a cluster of their races up the competitiveness scale, and moves ours down.

      And it markedly improves their odds of holding the House. That's a rainmaker.

      None Dare Call It Stupid!

      by RonK Seattle on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 07:46:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  MoveOn phone bank? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonK Seattle, jpeskoff

      How is MoveOn getting call sheets?

      Why can't we train our volunteers more effectively?  We can't somehow take a half hour before they go out walking precincts to do a few practice runs of a mock Q&A with a potential supporter/undecided voter?

      Sorry, I don't know how things work.  But, I begin to wonder if MoveOn is good at much besides annoying our voters.  Oh, wait, they're also good at annoying our staff assistants in Congress.  How does the RNC do this without annoying people with dozens of phone calls - is it that they call less but target the calls better, or their people are better trained, or that they do turnout within a limited window of time, or that they use direct mail more effectively, or all of the above?

      "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake."

      by daria g on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 07:58:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All very good questions (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daria g, jpeskoff
        GOP won this on targeting execution at the granularity of the individual voter (though they played the ad game and the gaffe-and-response, too).

        RNC invested effectively in database marketing systems back in the mid-90's. They refine and extende this advantage year by year, cycle by cycle, test by test. This was definitively decisive in Kerry's 2004 defeat.

        They have predictive profiles of individual voters. They hit the right voter at the right time with the right appeal, and they follow up to see what works. We are trying to take our country back using stone age tools.

        They also have sharpshooters ops who understand how to parachute in and work as a team. Dem  snipers (apply your favorite analogy here) don't show up ready for showtime.  

        None Dare Call It Stupid!

        by RonK Seattle on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 08:53:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stone age.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Great.  Yes, I recall what you wrote a month or so ago about Rove beating us with data mining.  I wonder how they got trained to do this.  

          I'm in DC and it's relevant to what I do, I should investigate - I work in higher ed and we use a marketing database.  I wonder if I don't find myself in a similar situation - we send a lot of appeals and have the ability to collect data on responses, but we don't use it effectively or target the message effectively, and we have hundreds of, essentially, advocacy groups within the institution who are loath to change their practices or cede any territory for the greater good.  Figuring out how to use this data effectively, the marketing and branding and targeting, is not my domain. I'm just a web monkey, but I get some sense of what might be going on vis a vis MoveOn and a few hundred other interest groups and the party organizations at every level.

          How do we get out of the stone age?  Are the netroots one piece?..  Huge questions, I'll keep them in mind.

          "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake."

          by daria g on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 09:41:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The database point is true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RonK Seattle

          I stumped for Kerry in PA in 2004 and couldn't believe how bad the address lists were.

          I'm a data mining professional and when I looked at the list, I couldn't believe it. It was sorted by street NUMBER!  That's right,
          1 Adam St.

          1 Avery Ave.

          1 Bond St.
          200 Smith St.
          200 Terry Rd.

          How is anyone supposed to go door-to-door with that list?
          I have the feeling that the DNC is a generation (or two) behind the RNC in databases and systems.  I used to be a registered Republican and got their fundraising mail.  After they called me and I asked me why I had not contributed, I never got any more mail.

          They may be evil but they are efficient.

          Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - John F. Kennedy

          by jpeskoff on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 11:25:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, they are efficient. (0+ / 0-)

            Getting things done, GOP style.

            Why can't we?  How is the right approach not being communicated to the right people in order to make things happen?

            "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake."

            by daria g on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 03:22:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  one other factor (0+ / 0-)

    I was reading David Corn's take on the Busby loss

    Nancy Pelosi, put away that tape measure! That seems to be the conventional wisdom the day after a key congressional election in San Diego. And it may even be correct--that is, Pelosi should not assume she will be picking out new curtains for the House Speaker's office following this fall's elections. In felonious Duke Cunningham's district, another Republican, former Representative Brian Bilbray, was able to hold the seat for the GOP, beating back the Democrat 49 to 45 percent. If the Ds cannot pick up a seat when an R is nabbed on bribery charges and tossed into prison, that's a sign that the "culture of corruption" charge (see Jack Abramoff) they are campaigning upon may not do the trick in November. (Representative William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), a Democrat accused of taking $100,000 bribe, is sure not helping on this front.) Cunningham's district was a Republican area. But to regain the House, the Dems need to do well in heretofore GOP districts.

    He goes on to argue that "illegal immigrants" may well be a local issue that hurts us.

    But my point is this:  yes, we have to pick up some GOP districts to win back the house.  But let us remember that current Republicans come in basically two flavors:  the corporate America types and the "social conservative" types.

    I doubt that we'll win the wealthier, corporate types.  But maybe, just maybe, we can win in some of the less wealthy, social conservative dominate areas by playing the "corruption" card, and by pointing out that the current Republican Party has been stiffing them when it comes time to actually do something.

    I am not saying that we become conservative ourselves, but rather that we say things like:  "see how you were lied to by the Republicans?  We'll be straight with you.  There are issues that we don't see eye to eye on. But we want to make our country family friendly again by focusing on ending the war, health care, education and jobs."

    Or something like that.

    When liberals saw 9-11, we wondered how we could make the country safe. When conservatives saw 9-11, they saw an investment opportunity.

    by onanyes on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 07:46:03 AM PDT

  •  We should not be making excuses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We should have won the Busby seat.  Since we didn't, we messed up.  Making excuses for losing is something that Dem consultants do all the time, but we're not supposed to be like that.  We need a win, and a close second won't save the Republic.  We need the House.  Falling one vote short will mean that the Cheney administration will continue to do as it pleases.  There is no back door.

    What that means is that we need to analyze this race, look at everything that worked and didn't work, and fix it so that we can win in November.  It appears that we fell down on get-out-the-vote efforts; Melman managed to call a lot more voters than we did.  The Republicans got their people to the polls and the Democrats didn't.  We can't allow that to happen in November.

    The YearlyKos people need to be grilling Howard Dean and everyone else on this.

    •  Abolutely (0+ / 0-)

      That was the purpose of this diary.

      1. What did we do right? Repeat it.
      1. What did we do wrong? Don't repeat the mistake
      1. What should we have done?  Do it in Nov.
      1. What did the Republicans do? Copy it (except the illegal stuff)

      Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - John F. Kennedy

      by jpeskoff on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 03:53:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This election should not be considered over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Listening to Thom Hartmann today, I learned several disturbing things that everyone needs to think about with regards to the Busby race.  The Busby campaign allegedly encouraged Democratic voters who distrust the voting machines to cast absentee ballots.  According to one caller, the Busby campaign sent out absentee ballots and if a ballot was not returned, the voter received a callback reminding them to send it in.  Another caller who did phone bank work for MoveOn claims that 4 out of 5 Busby voters he spoke with said they had already voted for her using these absentee ballots.  Mr. Hartmann, referencing MSNBC, claims that as many as 60,000 such ballots are still waiting to be counted.  Officials in San Diego have said that these ballots wil be counted.  In a race that came down to 4500 votes, why in god's name would Busby concede so quickly, when a major part of her campaign strategy was to encourage voting absentee?!?  And why are we sitting around running through the usual post-loss analysis, assuming that we've lost another one,  when we should be making a huge noise about this?  This should not be over!  Get mad!

  •  This race is over and really was not close.. (0+ / 0-)

    I dont know if looking back at this race is of much value as we look for better results in the November one thing is perfectly clear in the 50th CD. Bilbray is a polished experienced candidate that will now be running as an incumbent with 7 years of seniority, energized and red hot volunteers, all major local endorsements, all the media endorsements. While Busby will have no national funding, depressed supporters, endorsements from only out of the  district (Pelosi, Gore, Kerry), 3/2 republican registration that will increase in voter turnout with the statewide races now in play. And last but not least, Busby will continued to get hammered for the stupid " You dont need papers to vote.." comment. In conclusion, and with all due respect, Im sure Ms.Busby is a nice lady and may make a great elected offical at a local level. But that being said, she is not now, nor will she be a viable candidate for a national office of this level. Its hard for me to understand why anyone, anywhere could consider Busby a viable candidate in November. Lets face it this race is over and so is Ms Busby's political future. Now lets move on to issues and races where we have even a slight hope of success.

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