100 Counties Part I: Why?

So, it seems everyone has their own version of a 100 Counties strategy. This is the first post in a multi-post series. I was planning on holding off on this since I am calculating the change in turnout based on counties that had all seats filled versus those that have only some seats filled. But, since there is such interest on the topic right now, I thought I would go ahead and get the ball rolling. I have two straights days of meetings coming up, but I will get part II out when I can.

click picture to enlarge
100 Counties, Part I: Why?

With all apologies to Chris Bowers who inspired me with his 50-state project.
In 2004, in the midst of the hardest-fought Presidential Election any of us have ever experienced and perhaps that the United States of America has ever faced, the North Carolina Democratic Party (meaning you and me) ran six empty Senate seats and twenty-nine empty House seats. In 2006 we fared even worse, losing 31 House and 10 Senate seats without even running a candidate. The 50-state project has been debated online and in the “Halls of Power”, but I am a firm believer. I am going to suggest, with that in mind, that we in North Carolina should push for and accept nothing less than a candidate in every race in North Carolina in 2008. And, we need to start now. This is part one of two on 100 counties.
1. Why a 100 Counties Project?
2. Who to run and how to run on the cheap.

The benefits of the 50-state project can be summed up in a few key phrases.
The Foley Effect.
We all know the story behind Mark Foley. A Republican who was forced to run by the Republican leadership in order to keep the seat “safe” in the small wave year. But, what they didn’t count on was that their pedophilia would be smeared across the television screens of America. I am not suggesting we go out searching for these types of problems, but if they pop up on the radar screen we will have the seat covered.
The DeLay Effect.
Opposite of what I said about the Foley Effect, I think we should push very hard to try and find DeLay type corruption. I think each campaign should teach someone how to mine the data about who is giving the candidates money. Which individuals, which PACs. Then, I think they should look for quid pro quo, examples of candidates voting along the lines of their donors and against the common folk of NC. Paint Republicans as the party of corporate influence.
The Kissell Effect, if we win.
Larry Who? I believe Lance’s first diary on Larry was "Kissell fo’ Schizzle", and the point was “I missed his announcement because everyone missed it, who is this guy?” Now look where we are. Larry is our next Congressmen from the 8th district. The Kissell effect – a candidate that is seen as a complete longshot by everyone outside the district; who wins in spite of this because people here the candidates story and relate. They relate and they vote. With 35 or more seats being run instead of left empty, this has a real chance of happening. This year, when the election results were coming back, a NCDP official said about a House pick up “Which county is that? Who’s the candidate? I have no idea, that was not at all on our radar.” A current legislator said “That happens every couple years, someone runs a really good local race and we don’t even know about it.”
The Kissell Effect, if we lose.
I posted a comment on this before here at BlueNC. We have a congressional race in which the Democrat is losing by 400 votes. So, close. Yet, that Congressional District contained a whole slew of House and Senate seats that went unopposed by Democrats. Does it make a difference? My gut feeling is yes, but this is where I have been held up getting all the info into Excel sheets and trying to do the calculations. So, I'll post that at a later date.
The Genome Effect
What? None of you are genomic scientists? Well, tsk tsk. When you do genomics you “randomly” sequence pieces of the genome, short pieces a few thousand letters long. Then, you align those to figure out the sequence of the entire genome. But, you don’t shoot for 1X coverage, because there are some regions that will come up and some that won’t. What you shoot for is 6X coverage. That way, based on probability, some regions will be sequenced 8X and other 4X, but the entire genome will be covered in enough detail to give you the results you want.
If you look at the 2004 Hayes race, we had Beth Troutman running a race with $250K in funding. Not much coverage. We had a dirth of NC House and Senate seats being run, so not much coverage at that level. What we need for each county is this:

1. NC House races providing a ground game.
2. NC Senate races providing a ground game.
3. US House seat providing a ground game.
4. US Senate seat providing a ground game.
5. Governor race providing a ground game.
6. Lt. Governor race providing a ground game.

The 100 Counties strategy will give us this opportunity. Each county will have 6X coverage from the top local and state campaigns, all of which will be coordinated through the state party. Beyond that, there is a possibility of tying in the Presidential coverage once the primaries are over and a nominee is picked. And, there is always the possibility of including the County Commissioners, Mayors, etc for up to 10X coverage if we are lucky. What this means functionally is a flow of information on a near daily basis from state party, to county chair, to precinct chair, to block captain, to cluster captain, to individual voter. All from person-to-person contact, the method of contact that has been shown time and time again to actually influence voter turnout, the key to winning in 08 and beyond.

So, in summary of the question, “Why should we do it?” I think the easy answer is that it could lead to us picking up seats. The problem with this, I’ll admit, is that I come from this problem with the perspective of one who was shocked to find out that we weren’t already running a 50-state project. During my time in SC, the first thing I wanted to do was see if we couldn’t get a Democrat in every race on the ballot. It just seems instinctual to me that we fight for every seat, every race, every year. But, not everyone believes that. I would guess you can find examples in the military literature where the larger battle was won through the sacrifice of a small group. So, it would make sense that you give up in Stanly county so that you can conserve your resources to fight in Wake County. The problem with this analogy is that in military operations I doubt you would ever want a smaller group to just give up and lay down without a fight. That doesn’t provide much of a relief for the other, larger group. No, you want that smaller group to fight like wounded beasts, to give everything they have knowing that their chances of winning, of surviving, are small. But, in fighting the good fight they provide a chance for the larger group to win.

The biggest complaint against the 50-state strategy was that it cost too much and drained resources away from key races. We have yet to see how that will turn out in a non-wave year, but for now I will accept that this argument carries some weight. To that end, in part II, I am going to discuss how to run a 100 Counties program on the cheap so that it helps the local, state, and national Democratic Parties.



Letting Kissell Down

As I mentioned elsewhere, this year we left at least six House and Senate seats without a Democratic competitor within the 8th Congressional District. If each of those seats had been run through a 100 Counties strategy like that I am suggesting, we would have easily been able to increase turnout by the 500 votes needed to win. If each candidate only got their family and neighbors to vote we would get 500 votes, but tying their GOTV work into a state-wide network could have meant 1000s of extra votes.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

This is exactly right

Which is why you need something like a paid District Cordinator that knows the area to do these kinds of things. A district cordinator can look from that level down and can help find the candidates that are needed to run in those down ballot races. Here is an example in '08:
US House
State Senate
State House
County Seats (in some places)
Municipal Seats

If everyone of those races was contested it leads to a wall of sound that is hard to ignore.

Another thing that a District cordinator could do would be to integrate the messages of all levels to fit the District and also so that all the candidates would benefit from each other talking.


The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

The Great appear great because we are on our knees – Let Us Rise!
-- “Big Jim” Larkin

techincal shtuff

2 things
1- i am seeing recent comments on the right that i am not authorized to click on. shouldnt be able to see them as being recent comments (i assume)
2- your picture covers stuff up ;(


"Keep the Faith"

That bug is my bad

I'll try to fix that tonight -- (it won't take much time, but if I leave Arica to paint the nursery for too long by herself, well.....)

Problem fixed,

but cool comment block upgrades gone. :( I'll work on having both at once.

This means that we need to support the Democratic Party

I love the 100-county strategy, especially now that Dean has proven that the 50-state strategy works.

This means that we need to financially support the Democratic Party, not just candidates.

Dean's DNC did place 4 people in NC to work with different parts of the state. The NCDP paid their travel. I met one of them because she traveled to Orange County at least twice.

This sort of thing costs money, and Jerry Meek totally gets this sort of organizing.

I recommend donating to the NCDP now and keep on giving at least through 2008. I give a fixed amount every month through some program that the NCDP set up. Your donation will be split 50-50 with your county party, BTW.

This money goes to building the infrastructure that we need. It will not be wasted on stupid tv ads....

-- ge

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo

I love you Zabouti

but Mecklenburg County will not get one thin dime from me as long as Michael Evans and Pat Patton are in leadership positions within the party.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Independent Coordinated Campaign Fund

That's the answer. If I run for the D1 Seat again in 2008, I'm going to try and get all the Meck Co campaigns together so that each precinct is covered at least once by a campaign that isn't statewide. And the fund and organization for such an activity would be seperate from the MCDP if it has to be.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Local, local, local

Robert, I posted this earlier over at DK and I think it might apply here somewhat.

While campaigning for Heath Schuler (NC-11), I met my State Rep candidate for NC-85, Chuck Aldridge, a newcomer to politics. Actually I had met him years before as he ran a B&B that my folks stayed in while visiting. I was vey supportive of his efforts of course and mentioned that I had been mentioning him ocassionally while blogging on DK. He's a amart guy, a retired doctor. Unfortunately, he lost.

What was odd to me though was that he had never heard of Dkos, had only marginally heard of blogging and had no idea of the impact of new media. It got me thinking that one of my first priorities after the election should be to start educating local, potential candidates on the potential of this power.

I think we in the community sometimes forget that the whole world is not onto this yet. I was speaking to an adult education class just last week. I had 33 students from all walks of life. the vast majority very smart folks. Not one of them had heard of DK. None of them blogged. I'm going to start changing that. Haven't figured out how exactly but i'm going to try.


That's why I think the second part of this will be so important, getting every campaign online and organizing that way. Fund raising, signing up volunteers and likely voters, media releases, etc all in one place.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Excellent post, Robert

I agree that it is crucial that we stop handing the GOP 30-40 uncontested seats in the legislature. At a minimum, the state party should take the lead in:
- Recruitment
- Development of web sites for every candidate
- A base amount of campaign materials: signs, etc.
- Educational forums for candidates about issues, campaigning, blogging, etc.

This does not have to cost a lot of money. And besides, a seat in Stanley County is worth exactly the same amount as a seat in Wake County. There is no need to cede any seat.

You never know when some doctor or teacher or small-town mayor might just run a hell of a campaign on a shoestring and win.

Great distillation

#s 2 & 4 could be done completely online and there are other aspects that could be done online as well.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Robert, This is a very good first step

In Moore County a number of races were uncontested by dems, our party is pretty weak here. And I also agree with randalt, the blogosphere is virtually unknown.

But the msm is giving it more credence, I think CNN started it and they had that special following bloggers on election night.

Out lte efforts are good, but also need more coordination and we too need to start submitting "think" articles like jlf and nc policy watch to all newspapers across the state.

BlueNC needs to establish credentials as an online come-to place for Dem opinion, analysis and news. And somehow we need to get more people to understand the power available through this medium.

Most importantly, people need to be as comfortable with blogging as they are with reading online newspapers.

So along with starting right now coordinating with NCDP and counties to give every seat a candidate, we need to also look at ourselves and our presentation at bluenc.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

this is a great point that could be expanded.

BlueNC needs to establish credentials as an online come-to place for Dem opinion, analysis and news. And somehow we need to get more people to understand the power available through this medium.

We could make the biggest contribution and get the most attention by helping GOTV. Maybe tie-ins with Move On, maybe our own database of activists, whatever. If we get people calling and canvassing for Progressives, while supporting other Dems, we might get more notice and respect from the party.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Thanks, Robert P

We need help here in Gaston County. Despite managing to run candidates for nearly every local office up for grabs this election, we lost all but one (and that's a long story). Worse, no matter what the total vote count was for each race (there was a lot of undervoting),nor what strategy was used, we lost by roughly the same margin of votes. It's been very discouraging, and I'm afraid that there are many progressive people here who just want to give up.

It doesn't help Gaston County

that Mecklenburg's County party is in such a state of disarray. We are neighboring counties and we should be able to help each other. We had crews from smaller counties in the 8th coming in to canvass in Mecklenburg. We should all help each other out that way.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Meck is so huge.

I was just saying to A that Meck has 2X-10X the number of registered dems as other counties. That makes what you say so painful, yet also probably makes it hard to organize. It seems to me that Meck needs to break down to where each precinct captain has almost the same responsibilities as a County Chair in other counties.

CountryCrats - my thoughts, my blog.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Target McHenry

McHenry needs to be taken down in 2008. Like Hayes, in the minority he will be exposed for what he is, a water carrier that doesn't hold water. It might get some more momentum going in Gaston.

Strategic planning

Blue NC folk are going to get sick of me writing this.

Counties that do strategic planning win. You can call your county chair (Mel Black) or your state party regional director (Mark Hufford) and tell them you want to help in a strategic planning process. Jerry Meek wrote a manual years ago.

The counties that have done it are winning even though outnumbered by Republicans. Watauga county did their own planning without Jerry's manual. Polk did it with Jerry. There are other examples but those two basically swept their races and neither have majorities.

The counties that have not done it are discouraged and complaining. Tell everyone that complains to commit to helping in the strategic planning process. Tell them to look up the last decade of Watauga numbers. Tell them to look up the last three electons in Polk. Polk did their planning two elections ago. They didn't win the last one but they kicked ass this year.
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the Drama.

Jerry Meek

has probably been thinking 100 counties for years. I don't think we are telling him anything he doesn't know, but I hope that in the future posts when we deal with methods of running an under-the-radar, inexpensive campaign we will peak his interest in having someone in all the races.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

We have our own plan

but there's no working with anyone in county party leadership right now. We can talk later. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I don't disagree with you

My issue is how we can Dems on the same page. Only a few people here in the Gaston County Democratic Party seems to grasp the importance of implementing Meek's stategy

you better believe

That is the reason he made the post about the senate. Take it as a big hint. Jerry knows a lot of people, and he can do some real recruiting, but he doesnt know everyone in the state. That is where we come in. Have a local seat that you want the party to run someone in? Email Jerry a few names and let him work his magic. He cant go around blindly recruiting people, he needs our help.


"Keep the Faith"

I'm not ignoring this...

I'm thinking about it. I'm slow, but my work is bad. :)

Stan Bozarth