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Before there was Daily Kos Elections there was a brilliant blog started by David Nir that with great skill and immense dedication by David Nir and his co-blogger Jame L, Chrisitunity, and JeffMD filled the vital niche of downballot election coverage.  What I loved about the Swing State Project was its activism (read: support for the idea of the 50 State Strategy and the need to run Democrats everywhere) and willingness to let candidates actually campaign before writing them off.  We all knew that certain races were more difficult than others and we lived in a fact based world and us readers (lurkers like me) and active commenters were mainly numbers junkies (I have for more 10 years experience crunching precinct level returns local, state, and federal candidates and many others here had much more experience than me).  But...and here is the important part that is missing these days...we gave candidates a chance to campaign before writing them off and we worked together to push the envelope of which voters were hearing the Democratic case.

Daily Kos back in those days was also on the same page.  Markos and the other front pagers were and I believe still are committed to expanding the map of where the Democrats were competitive and aided the victories on red turf of Stephanie Herseth (SD-AL), Bem Chandler (KY-6), and Jon Tester (MT-Sen).  We also had a lot of close calls over the years in very red turf such as OH-02 where Paul Hackett (D) lost to Jean Schmidt (R) by 3,785 votes in a district where Bush beat Kerry by 92,350.  Now before people say "but Paul Hackett was in a special election and Kerry sucked"...1) Paul Hackett's campaign in 2005 set the stage for Victoria Wulsin (D) losing to Schmidt in the 2006 general by 2,517 votes and 2) Obama lost this same district in 2008 40% to 59%.  If we show up with good candidates and run good campaigns we can do much better than the pure Presidential numbers indicate.  

Yes, it is hard and not very common to break the standard party performance, but it can be done.  But you need to show up, which means you need to recruit quality candidates and let them have time to prove themselves to donors and supporters before they are written off.  The numbers are a tool not unbreakable law.

This week Liz Cheney announced a primary challenge to Sen. Enzi in WY.  In just the latest comment writing off a race before it even got started the DKos Elections Digest post said "Of course, Democrats have no hope here regardless of what transpires in the primary"  Now there is no doubt that WY is a tough state for Democrats, but as recently as 2003-2011 WY had a Democratic governor that was twice elected statewide.  Also in 2006 Gary Trauner (D) came within 1012 votes of defeating the incumbent congresswoman Barbara Cubin (R).  

With the potential of a nasty Republican primary and someone as polarizing as Liz Cheney possibly being the GOP nominee, why not wait and see and maybe even do some candidate recruitment before writing the race off?  

This is just one example of an attitude I feel has become constant in the last couple months.  Let's stop ourselves before we start acting like the old DC pundits that we all thought were idiots back in the days of the Swing State Project.  I use to be a fervent reader of Roll Call and The Hill back in early 2000s, but there was a reason I was more impressed by David Nir and his amazing fellow bloggers.  They gave candidates a chance, they really delved into the nuances of races, and they knew that though numbers mattered so did campaigns and there were active efforts to alert readers of upcoming filing deadlines and candidate vacancies so we could recruit candidates everywhere.  Now that was a vital service to the liberal cause.  

In part because of their effort (and definitely not because of Rahm Emanuel and other DC numbers focused operatives) the Dems were able to catch the 2006 and 2008 waves.  It takes a while for a wave to emerge and candidate filing deadlines happen in many places well before there is clarity that there will be a wave, but we need quality candidates on the ballot to give voters a choice if they decide they want to vote for change.

Let us give voters that choice.  Let us go back to our roots of the Swing State Project and Daily Kos of old and use our electrons to advertise ballot vacancies and filing deadlines so local activists that are newer to activism than we are can do candidate recruitment in their area.  

Let us do this for state leg races as well.  A lot of harm is being done by Republicans at the state level.  Smaller districts are easier to door knock and take less money.  Let's not write off retaking the NC state legislature for example just because a horrible gerrymander.  Instead let's give local activists the tools to recruit, fund, and run quality candidates instead of writing them off and telling their potential supporters there is no hope.

Our words matter and have impact.

At one point I was inspired by Swing State Project to run for city council in my home town.  I knocked on doors, got volunteers to help, and I doubled turnout and won by 21 votes.  It was a traditionally small turnout election but in the 5 weeks between me filing and the election I did all of that.  It was partially inspired by my experience as a lurker on Swing State Project.  Let us give others that inspiration and encouragement and watch the impact we are having by writing off districts so quickly.

If we never try to communicate to voters in a given area they will never hear our side, they will become more and more Republican, and then at the next redistricting there will be an even bigger set of of conservative areas to dilute the newly drawn districts.

And a final word about numbers...women are around 50% of all voters in most districts in the country.  Given the War on Women, so powerfully demonstrated by Kaili Joy Gray, let's give voter in every district a quality alternative in case they have had enough of the War on Women and all the other extreme behavior of Republican elected officials.  This means giving candidates a chance to prove themselves before they are written off.  Let's also use our megaphones to advertise filing deadlines and ballet vacancies.  Let's encourage people in communities all over the country to run whether she is a recently retired Marine or he is dad active in his kid's PTA, not discourage them or undermine them before they are given a chance.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I found SSP before I found Kos (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brillig, evcoren, Larsstephens, Lujane

    I think that was the blog that directed me here, actually. There were so many references to diaries on this site that I had to come check it out.

  •  Thanks for the kind words (16+ / 0-)

    I've definitely gotten some criticism for that line, and could have written it a little less definitively. In fact, I usually try to avoid definitive pronouncements. I will keep an open mind, but I think the circumstances that allowed Freudenthal to win and Trauner to come close don't obtain here, and I'd be very surprised if we got a candidate of that caliber.

    But surprises do happen. After all, as they say about baseball, it's why they play the games!

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 05:02:49 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for all your amazing work over the years (9+ / 0-)

      I have been a fan of your work and the other dedicated members of the DKos Elections team for many years. I know from my own experience trying to run a local blog that it is a labor of love and not an easy thing what you guys do.

      I think I have just felt the tone changed in the Digest and other DKos Elections front page posts in the last 6-12 months. I know it is very easy for us numbers guys and gals to after we see election after election match the generic partisan break for a district to think the numbers dictate.  I think that is what prompted the shrinking of turf Dems tried to compete for from the 1970s on until the point we had to eek out a win in FL in 2000, but we see all the time candidates win in districts despite the partisan generics. Yes, other factors play into those wins, but none of them would happen if we didn't try. Voters deserve a choice.

      The WY comment was just one of many, including the Q&A at Netroots. I think there has been a significant change in tone just from last year to this one. I think we all are depressed by the current state of the gerrymanders in many states, but we should respond by fighting harder not writing race after race off without trying.

      If we doubt a strong candidate will emerge let's work to recruit a strong candidate.

      •  Also change midterm dynamics. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        evcoren, Zack from the SFV

        Roughly 30% of voters only vote in Presidential years.

        That provides a huge opportunity in midterms to find those people and get them to vote.  A serious 50-state GOTV operation could turn a lot of otherwise unwinnable races.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:53:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We can't win... (10+ / 0-)

    What we don't fight for. An empty spot on the ballot means one vote seals an election. A halfhearted attempt at a seat convinces more than a few people that the losing party is too lost to consider in future elections.

    Glad to see this diary, evcoren!

    "But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." - - Cherokee saying

    by brillig on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 05:08:47 PM PDT

  •  This is a difficult problem (6+ / 0-)

    First, on the one hand, I think it's true that Democrats should to have a credible candidate everywhere.

    However, the same insight that lets us to recognize that different geographies require different kinds of candidates should also help us be realistic in another way: there are some districts/states (for a Federal race, anyway) that are virtually hopeless before we even think of trying.

    So the question for me is, in extremely inhospitable territory, where no Democrat would have a remotely even chance of winning, what level of support and emphasis should we be willing to give to the type of Democrat (surely a "Democrat") who would be most likely to win there?

    The old SSP ethos that you recognize is surely still there, but it's tempered, as you recognize. Thankfully, I find it unlikely that DKE would, today, be out in front for a Travis Childers (though I am pretty confident the editors would say otherwise). But in my view, the Childers of the world should be left to the party committees, whose job it is to support anyone with a D label. I'm pretty much happy to have them over a Republican, but I'm not opening my checkbook unless it's beyond doubt that the choice is between them and minority status.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:10:23 PM PDT

    •  Something less than a donation (7+ / 0-)

      I always thought the motto was, and should be, "more and better Democrats" and a full embrace of the 50 state (435 CD, every state LD) strategy.

      1) Democrats running everywhere means that Republicans have to spend their money in their districts instead of directing money to open seat races and other targeted districts. Force Republicans to spend at home, and perhaps, we might get lucky.

      2) Having (a credible) Democrat on the ballot helps with party identification and party building generally. If you think you are alone as a Democrat in (e.g. southern Utah or northeastern Washington), a campaign presence can energize and mobilize Democrats in districts that do not get the attention of the DNC or DCCC.

      3) Candidates themselves can bring up issues and force their opponents to respond to Democratic issues, rather that run a campaign entirely on their talking points.

      4) Good Democratic candidates and campaigns can pave the way for future successes. Without a candidate, all that party building is for not.

      As activists, we should embrace candidates that do not speak ill of our Party's leadership or the Democratic Party in general. I believe it is OK for candidates in rural districts to support issues important to their voters, but to refrain from using Republican talking points to do so.

      •  I basically agree, with the exception of (0+ / 0-)

        your last sentence. There are going to be cases where a great number of us just can't support the candidate because he or she is absolutely terrible on the issues that matter.

        Ok, so I read the polls.

        by andgarden on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:39:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Lets start (6+ / 0-)

    I say we kick it off by resurrecting one of what was the most important projects from 06 and 08 which I believed was cirtitical in our wins for the House that year.

    Bring back the 435 project. Make sure we got a candidate in every House race. We have seen, the party more likely to win seats in the House is the party that fields the most candidates.

    That's my thought on how to get started. We're all older and have become less naive and more jaded, but we need more youthful ignorance sometimes on how high we can jump exactly.

    SSP alumni, 28, Male, Democrat, TX-22 ('10); TX-14 ('12)

    by trowaman on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:36:00 PM PDT

  •  Seems like this site has become very doctrinaire. (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if people here would support candidates who can win in all 50 states anymore.

    •  Many people on the main page probably wouldn't. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OGGoldy, James Allen
      •  They certainly wouldn't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Audrid, James Allen

        But, I don't think a lot of people that calls DKE home would either. Although I think that the subsite subset would be more willing to entertain the requisite candidates to play in places like Appalachia, the rural South, and the conservative portions of the Mountain West.

        I am a Tom Rukavina Democrat

        by OGGoldy on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:54:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I draw a careful distinction (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OGGoldy, JohnnyBoston

          between Daily Kos Elections, in which the tenor of discussion is more willing to bend (within reason) to accommodate local views in Democratic candidates, and the main site, which too often seems to favor ideology and purity over electability.

          I should note, though, that in my experience I've found the leadership of Daily Kos, including Markos, is more practical and willing to compromise than many of the regular diarists.  Too many main site diarists and commenters sound as if they'd be satisfied with us being on the wrong end of a 70-30 Senate split, so long as the Democratic minority consists of 30 Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders clones.

          37, MD-8 (MD-6 after 2012) resident, NOVA raised, Euro/Anglophile Democrat

          by Mike in MD on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:27:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good policy is good politics. (0+ / 0-)
            Too many main site diarists and commenters sound as if they'd be satisfied with us being on the wrong end of a 70-30 Senate split, so long as the Democratic minority consists of 30 Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders clones.
            If you ran those clones in every district, you might be quite surprised what the final votes are.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:56:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

        Didn't someone on the main page say they didn't care if Pryor won?

        I miss non-dkos sites because you could say things and not get the typical "you are not a real progressive" rejoinder.  I miss mydd.  I miss open left (and not just because I wrote for it).

  •  It's a very narrow path (5+ / 0-)

    To walk and to find - balancing between electability and advancing the causes that people here believe in. The doctrinaires have a point that we can't just accept the Overton window where it is - we have to move it.

    What they don't see is that the problem isn't the Gene Taylors or Ike Skeltons or even the Joe Manchins, it's the Tom Carpers and Jim Coopers and Al Wynns. There is room, lots of room, to make our legislative bodies more progressive or whatever you want to call it. But right now, it's not in Idaho's 1st, it's in Tennessee's 5th.

    We can have the cake (more Representatives) and eat it (more liberal Representatives.) So let's start baking.

    19/Sweden/Wonk. Prefers discussing opinions to having them. Learning by doing.

    by Tayya on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:03:33 AM PDT

  •  I miss SSP, too (0+ / 0-)

    But I don't remember it as being the home of the "Rahm is evil/Dean is God" blather we used to see on dKos. To me, its appeal was that it was a place for data-driven political analysis from a progressive perspective, not that it was filled with advocacy of Dean's agenda.

    •  I think David made a fantastic move in 07 (3+ / 0-)

      He may not have realized what sort of environment he would be creating by explicitly banning the Clinton/Obama chatter. It incidentally created a place where down ballot races were not only talked about and emphasized, but all other conversations were disallowed. That decision he made right around the time I started lurking there fundamentally changed what SSP and eventually DKE would become. And had he not done that, he likely would have never been noticed and hired by Kos.  Because SSP would have been just another Obama/Clinton flamewar blog, and those were a dime a dozen during the 08 primary season.

      I am a Tom Rukavina Democrat

      by OGGoldy on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:30:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just as an FYI (3+ / 0-)

        I became a contributing editor to Daily Kos in 2004.

        Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

        by David Nir on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:34:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You personify the false dichotomy (0+ / 0-)

          OGGoldy imagines Daily Kos as some sort of puritanical hotspring. I wonder if he knows what Howard Dean's 2004 supporters (i.e., the original netroots) thought of Nader voters.

          Ok, so I read the polls.

          by andgarden on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:30:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  There's some truth to that (6+ / 0-)

        I mostly hung out at Daily Kos in the 2005-2007 era, occasionally glancing over at SSP but not commenting much at all. Then DK became totally and suddenly insufferable with the Obama/Clinton flamewars, and I found myself hanging out at SSP a lot more, noticing that not only was everyone calm and collegial there but also that they had a wide, healthy range of electoral interests instead of just the 8,000 pound gorilla that was the presidential race.

        Then I quickly discovered that if I did a diary there, it would actually get some traction, instead of just scrolling off the diary list into the memory hole after a couple hours like all the other diaries at DK that didn't come from someone who was a dominant member of one of the main cliques. That led me to diary some more complex and quantitative topics that I'd wanted to try out at DK (but didn't feel like putting the time in on, if they were just going to get drowned out by all the shouting), which got even more traction and eventually led to me joining the FP staff.

        Editor, Daily Kos Elections.

        by David Jarman on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:37:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I try to cover local races in the comments section (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If there's a candidate you like in Wyoming, post about it, and be the change you want to see.
    Posting filing deadlines is a good idea too, and I'm sure you could carve out a place for that.

  •  W should definitely always run credible candidates (4+ / 0-)

    in every race, because we never know what may happen.  We also need to be realistic about our chances, though.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 03:26:21 PM PDT

  •  ah, I too miss SSP (0+ / 0-)

    haven't been commenting here as much as I want

    Managed small races in VA and DC. Worked political for DGA. Now at Message Global. Follow me @bharatkrishnan if you want to be my friend.

    by Bharat on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:47:51 PM PDT

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