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Like It Or Not, We Owe A Lot To Howard Dean

Whether Democrats want to acknowledge it or not, we owe a lot to Howard Dean.

Although I’ve never been a Dean supporter, I must admit that I felt a sense of sadness today when Dean announced he was ending his presidential campaign.

How a campaign that showed such promise could end up so far off track will be a case study for political science students and woulld-be political consultants for years to come. But, how and why the campaign got off track and why it ultimately was unsuccessful (at least, in securing the nomination for Dean) isn’t as important now as what Democrats can learn from his campaign.

Democrats owe a good deal to Howard Dean. He proved once and for all that the Internet can be a powerful tool in energizing campaigns and in organizing grassroots supporters. For example:

Without the Dean Campaign, a "meet-up" probably wouldn't have become a major part of our political vocabulary.

Dean proved that tens of millions of dollars in small contributions can be raised through the Internet.

Most of all, though the Democratic Party and all of the other candidates (even those who aren't in the race anymore) can thank Howard Dean for, because Agency France Presse put it:

"[He] drew in millions of disenfranchised voters."

These voters, which the nominee must work hard to woo, will become a key factor in whether or not we will be able to win in November. Without Dean's high-octane campaign (gaffes like his Iowa speech aside), this year might have become a time when some of these voters--without having been energized-- stayed home. Even now, with Dean having been unable to win an entire primary this season, it is evident that some of the early supporters he attracted stayed active in the process, although they most likely went to another candidate instead of staying home all together.

So, as Democrats, we have Howard Dean to thank for bringing back at least some of the "disenfranchised" back to our party. And, as Democrats, we can learn from Dean's campaign...what to do, and, perhaps, what not to do in order to raise money, attract support and keep that support alive long enough to win in November.

Posted by at February 18, 2004 8:51 PM