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Today I put another $200 into the campaign for California Congressional candidate Jay Chen. Jay Chen is running against one of the most corrupt bankster cronies in Congress.

I gave using the handy Blue America ActBlue Donate page.

And every Kossack should do something similar today to widen the playing field and help progressives take advantage of what is shaping up to be a lop-sided wave election win for President Obama.

For the last three election cycles, I have been pushing one single concept, which is to widen the number of races where grassroots activists invest their money so that we have candidates poised to win in races if we have a wave election.

This puts me at distinct odds with the insiders' game, the DCCC way of thinking that protects incumbents and constantly seeks to narrow the playing field to the races that are "closest".

"Close" races pull in all the money, where it is spent on media blitzes with diminishing returns. In my cynical view, consultants push the strategies that generate the most commissions, so they are pushing money into those teevee ads that have are barely seen by the folks we need to get out and vote.

Races that are deemed to be "not close"  are frozen out of institutional money,even though the money going into these campaigns will be going to the lowest cost, most cost-effective expenditures like quality data so volunteers are targeting their time best, quality pieces for volunteers, and targeted mail that gets a specific message to voters.

Add to this the problem of the Presidential election, where incredible sums of money flow into swing states while safe states are supposed to focus primarily on shipping their money and volunteers to swing states.

And every cycle, there are surprises, where quality progressive candidates beat the odds even though they were written off by the party establishment and the big money donors. Every cycle, there are races that are heart-breakingly close, where our small campaign contributions at the right time might have made all the difference in the world.

There are three more huge reasons to donate to the out-of-the-money candidates.

First, many of them happen to be our candidates, progressive on every issue, instead of the corporate Dems who seem best at attracting big money. If you're like me, and you have given money to candidates who proved incredibly disappointing, guys like Larry Kissell, you will swear never to make that mistake again just because a race appears close. And hey, Larry, I still want my money back.

Second, sometimes something happens - a scandal, a macaca moment, something so outrageous that even the right-wing media covers it and the local teevee news runs with it. If we've been putting out money into progressive candidates, they can have the infrastructure ready to use more. Mail pieces designed, data ready to call, et cetera.

Third, there's one amazing effect nationally when a safe incumbent suddenly has to run a campaign against some insurgent who everybody counted out. We saw it in 2008 when Crazy Dana Rohrabacher saw polling that put progressive Debbie Cook within range. Dana stopped raising money for other people, flew in a top-notch operative, and hunkered down. Debbie didn't win, but we pulled scarce resources that would have gone into some other campaign, and somewhere in the country, one other Democrat pulled through because scarce resources had been diverted to a safe district.

Republicans benefit when the narrow the playing field because they can focus their best operatives and their money on the negative attacks that suppress votes and confuse people.

Democrats win when we widen the playing field because our money is leveraged by volunteers.

There are other candidates like Jay in other states, tremendous candidates, with a credible path to victory who are triaged out of major money.

Howie Klein and Blue America do a great job of interviewing and finding some of the best and most progressive candidates. If you don't know of close races, you can always just follow their lead. Here's a great article on why they don't do triage.

Read it. Give money.

Originally posted to Aeolus on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    The red tide of ignorance and hatred stopped at the Sierra Nevadas.

    by Aeolus on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:07:07 AM PDT

  •  50-State Strategy (4+ / 0-)

    Democrats need quality candidates everywhere to give voters a real choice. We should never cede seats to Republicans - it lets them get away with nominating the craziest of the crazy.

    NC-4 (soon to be NC-6) Obama/Biden 2012

    by bear83 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:23:29 AM PDT

  •  Dr. Syed Taj MI-11 A gift from Thaddeus McCotter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, Aeolus, flatford39

    McCotter was disqualified when he submitted fraudulent signatures.  This seat was supposed to be a lock for him.
    The (R) candidate is a tea partier whose own party can't stand him.
    Dr. Taj would be an excellent Congressman, and would protect Social Security and Medicare.

    He needs our support.

  •  Excellent advice and analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Often the best-managed campaigns are those that have been written off by the party because it forces candidates to develop a strong grassroots field and GOTV operation if they want to win. And as the diarist points out, taking party money often means hiring party consultants who get a commission from large spray and pray TV and direct mail buys that don't actually move votes. These are the same folks who poo poo radio and cable, which can be more targeted if done well, because there's no money in it for them.

    The biggest downside to being written off by the party is that it usually means the candidate loses the large donors. That's why the advice in this diary is so important--it's up to us, the grassroots base, to make up for it, both with money and with our time. And not just at the Congressional level but at the statehouse level as well because, at least in my experience, the triage model is often applied there too and candidates who could edge out a win with even a small amount of financial or staffing support are written off altogether.  

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