Friday, November 10, 2006

Return Day, Biden, Dean and DailyKos

Yesterday's post about Joe Biden's animated conversation with several young activists about bringing Democratic GOTV into the 21st century generated far more attention than I could have possibly expected. DailyKos diarist Delaware Dem picked up on it, just as James Carville was getting spanked for saying that Howard Dean should be replaced with Harold Ford. His diary post got bumped up to recommended status and has now drawn more than 110 comments.
When I wrote, "Biden enthusiastically endorsed Howard Dean's 50 state strategy," I didn't expect these eight words to generate as much attention as they did.
So here's a bit of background. The whole thing started when I introduced a young Party staffer to Biden, saying that Chris had been working GOTV in Wilmington, and had been hired thanks to Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. Biden immediately launched into his critique of the Democratic Party's GOTV effort, which set Chris back on his heels a bit, even though Biden was sure to let him know that he wasn't criticizing his efforts. Joe Biden is an imposing figure; afterwards, Chris and I compared the experience to being subjected to the Lyndon Johnson treatment.
Until this year, the coordinated campaign was something organized in a few weeks with the state Party pulling together whatever local organization was already in place with those volunteers the Party could muster to fill in the gaps. Thanks to the increased local staffing funded by the 50 state strategy, the state Party was able to get started several months in advance, instead of several weeks in advance. Biden's point was that we should be doing this year round, not just when election day approaches. If we do, he said we would "own Delaware" for the forseeable future.
Joe Biden may live much of his life at 30,000 feet, figuratively speaking (he rides Amtrak to work every day), but he hasn't forgotten the importance of turnout in winning elections. His upset win in 1972 that made him senator-elect before he turned 30 was due in large part to a huge volunteer effort. Even though he hasn't been seriously challenged in years (he won in 2002 with 58 percent), he has never forgotten the importance of precinct level politics.
Biden pointed out that Tuesday's turnout in RDs 1, 2 and 3 in Wilmington didn't break out of the 30-some percent range. Turnout in RD-4 was higher, due to a contested campaign for state representative. While Biden himself wasn't up for reelection this year, he was paying attention to the turnout numbers because of his son Beau's campaign for attorney general.
Just to be clear, I didn't hear Joe Biden offer an opinion of whether Howard Dean should stay or go as DNC Chairman. But based on the responses (up to 166 since I started writing this) to Delaware Dem's diary post, Joe Biden won himself a few fans among the netroots by emphatically voicing his understanding of what party building is all about. Many in the blogosphere have been arguing over who deserves credit for Tuesday's big win, but Biden was talking about the future, not the past.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Face time with Joe, interesting.
The oddest chatter is about Carper counseling the fightin' DEM guv-in-waitings for a US Senate seat should Biden move up in 2008 (either as Prez, VP or Secy State).

5:50 PM, November 10, 2006  

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