Washington Monthly on 7 January, speaking of the Warren campaign:
But I think clearly at the national level, and certainly in my state, we demonstrated without any question that if you’re serious about grassroots organizing at the precinct level, you can win, and you can beat big money anytime. That’s something we Democrats have to understand, and we have to practice that every election cycle. Quite frankly, we haven’t been doing it, except in the presidential campaigns, and some Congressional and Senatorial campaigns. But the Warren campaign stands out as being a great example of that. I’ll take a little bit of credit for that, but not much. She deserves it, because she listened, and she said, “okay that’s what we’re going to do.” On election day, she had 26,000 volunteers out. That was the culmination of an increasingly powerful grassroots campaign that just blew Brown out of there. Not surprisingly, he had money, but no grassroots support. In fact, he was bringing young people in from DC, which gives you just some sense of how weak his grassroots support was in comparison to hers.
I don’t think many of the professional politicians or people in the political industry believe this. It’s easy to see why insofar as grassroots-based politics doesn’t carry big ad buy commissions, which is how many political consultants make much of their money. As Upton Sinclair famously observed: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
A flaw in Dukakis’ thesis with respect to the Warren campaign, of course, is that Warren was “big money:” she raised $42 million to Brown’s $28 million. (Annoyingly, she keeps demanding more with every email: first professing deep personal gratitude, and then slipping in the ask. One might think that $42 million would earn a week or two of commercial-free emails).
Nonetheless, Dukakis is exactly right that politics is changing, at least in Massachusetts, driven in large measure by the Internet. Nationwide, whichever party manages to drive Obama- and Warren-quality technology all the way down to the local assessor and dog catcher level will reap huge gains that may last for a long time. There is no technical or financial reason why they can’t: there is virtually no marginal cost to adding a few thousand users to a database management system built for a national or state-level campaign. Indeed, if Karl Rove had spent his millions on building Internet infrastructure instead of wasting it on TV he might have accomplished something in the last cycle — but he also wouldn’t have gotten his commission. The NRA is a case in point of how a small but well-organized extremist group can control the whole country, and this is a natural model for the Republicans to ape as their base continues to shrink. So far, they have been as incompetent and ineffective as Republicans usually are when faced with a real-world problem (should I have linked here?). But they may not stay that way.
Dukakis also more or less endorses Markey at the end of the interview:
Ed Markey has already announced. He’s a terrific guy, and I’m a big fan of his. He’d be a great candidate, and a great Senator. I don’t know who else is going to announce, but he should be out there in front, and working hard at it, and more power to him.