June 15, 2005

THE 40% STRATEGY (via Kevin Whited):

Howard Dean's the man for a tough rebuilding job: Party chair telling it like it is, speaking for progressives (STAN MERRIMAN, 6/14/05, Houston Chronicle)

We Democrats failed to convey a belief system on key voter concerns such as security, an ill-conceived and unjustified war, an economic plan to fund basic citizen survival services and a clear differentiation from Republican social and economic policy. Last November, we were not an opposition party with a better idea for America.

Berg's suggestion that our 2004 campaign was injured by angry language was surprising. It was as if he and I were participating in two entirely different campaigns. The Kerry campaign was timid, unfocused and devoid of a passionate commitment to a belief system.

Concerning Howard Dean's rhetoric: His Democratic critics misunderstand Dean's strategy. Moderate Republicans and independents are not the target group Dean has in mind to rebuild and move our party to the winning column once again. Nor is that group the responsibility of an opposition party offering a better solution. In this period of renewal, our target is the 40 percent of the electorate who have opted out of the system because we Democrats are not speaking to and for them.

My math isn't so good, so I may have this wrong, but it would seem that remaining the Security Party -- which, as Mr. Merriman notes, attracts only 40% of the electorate in a nation that favors Liberty -- doesn't win you many elections.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2005 8:42 AM

Sounds like he's referring to the 40% who didn't vote at all last election.

Posted by: Matt C at June 15, 2005 10:06 AM

No, I think what he's saying is that Dean is happy with 40% of the voting population (which is 60% of the total population) as long as he can delude himself that he has 100% of the non-voting population (which is 40% of the total population). That way, the Dems are supported by 40%*60% + 100%*40% = 64% of the total population. Of course they lose every election (until they persuade the non-voters to vote!).

Posted by: pj at June 15, 2005 10:10 AM

If Democrats had wanted a bold candidate, they would have nominated Dean or Sharpton last time.

They didn't.

And the writer's logic is suspect - I doubt if the mythical 40% left the Democratic fold (Kerry got more votes than any Democrat ever, after all); rather, the Democrats left them.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 15, 2005 10:51 AM

"our target is the 40 percent of the electorate who have opted out of the system"

In other words, Dean is talking to people who don't want to hear what he has to say. Brilliant. I'll bet Karl Rove didn't think of that.

Posted by: AllenS at June 15, 2005 10:52 AM

Articles like this warm the heart. It's nice to see that "progressives" are still safely in their delusion that the Dems would start to win if only their candidates would more openly run to the left...

Posted by: b at June 15, 2005 10:55 AM


The amazing thing is the contradictions they have to hold in their heads:

(1) Republicans control the media and tar Democrats as radicals

(2) Losing Democratic candidates--Gore, Kerry, etc.--were perceived by the public as conservatives.

(3) Run guys to the Left of Kerry and you'll win.

Posted by: oj at June 15, 2005 10:59 AM

He is not talking about people who choose not to vote....

The man is talking about Dean bringing in more of the dead vote into the fold next election! lol

The new mantra will be every vote counts.......
Dead, alive or felon!!

Posted by: bdawg65 at June 15, 2005 11:11 AM

Nobody has a serious clue about what the nonvoting 40% believe about anything. For all we know, they could be waiting for some guy with a toothbrush moustache to come along or for somebody proposing the reinstitution of chattel slavery of Black people to come on the scene.

The Democrats are in a box though. They have failed to distinguish themselves from the GOP on economic matters in a serious way. The bulk of their financial support and their vote would run for the hills if someone actually did come along proposing the American equivalent of a Scandinavian welfare state and the taxes necessary to sustain it. I don't recall seeing Kucinich break into double digits in a single Democrat primary and it seems to me Ralph Nader never got more than about 6% of the vote in a single state. Also, he didn't draw in many of those previously refraining from voting.

Posted by: bart at June 15, 2005 11:20 AM

We Democrats failed to convey a belief system on key voter concerns such as security [and] an ill-conceived and unjustified war.

He's so close to an epiphany -- and so far.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 15, 2005 11:20 AM

oj: At least we crazies over here have historical backing for our claims that running far to the right is a winner.

bart: Kucinich did very well in Hawaii. Certainly well above single digits...

Posted by: b at June 15, 2005 11:33 AM

The last time I saw anything that broke down what the non-voters believed, which was a long time ago, they broke down more or less the same as the voters. Not voting is more likely to be a sign of contentment than alienation.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 15, 2005 11:57 AM

If there's a third party headed by McCain, 40% is all they'll need to win. Remember no Democrat won a fair two-man election since Truman. Kennedy stole the 1960 election from Nixon, and I don't count the election of 1964 as a win for the Democratic party. The election was an anomaly because Goldwater was trashed by his own party, Democrats and the media and Johnson got the sympathy vote in the wake of Kennedy's death.

My definition of a liberal is one who can hold opposite and opposing opinions at the same time, so Dean and the other liberals surrounding him aren't having any trouble keeping things straight.

Posted by: erp at June 15, 2005 1:18 PM


Truman's election wasn't even a two-man race, although a majority of Strom's voters would certainly have voted for HST.

I have read that a Goldwater-Kennedy race would have been much more interesting (and closer) than we can suppose now, in light of Camelot and all that. Goldwater certainly knew he was mush in light of Kennedy's murder.

Carter did win fair and square, although had the election been a week later.....

But if 1968 had been a week later, Nixon probably would have lost.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 16, 2005 3:37 PM