Don’t miss the excellent article in today’s Globe about Mass. Dems chair and grassroots superhero John Walsh.
There are many impressive things about how John turned disaster in January into triumph in November. For me, perhaps the most impressive is the fact that he was able to take a devastating loss, look dispassionately at what happened (which surely included looking hard at what he himself had gotten wrong), and devise a plan to fix it that was both simple in concept and visionary in scope.
Add to that this part of it, which is easy to say but which I suspect in practice was far, far more complicated:
In the final weeks of the campaign, he pooled the party’s substantial forces, persuading all 10 members of Congress, all statewide candidates, and most legislative candidates to pool their voter lists. Rather than individually identifying potential votes and enlisting separate organizers, the candidates could tap a massive base of voters and volunteers. “We as Democrats had to absolutely cooperate with one another, which doesn’t always happen historically,” Walsh said.
Heh – that last quote is probably the understatement of the century. The basic idea sounds so straightforward – candidates on the same side should pool their voter lists and essentially share their volunteers. But to anyone who has worked anywhere near politics, the turf battles and bruised egos, as well as the logistical hurdles, that must have been involved will immediately become apparent. They would have been too much for most people to handle. The fact that John was able to pull this off at all, to say nothing of how brilliantly it actually worked, is a powerful testament to a guy who both believes in doing real grassroots politics and understands what it takes to make it happen.
I really, really hope that John’s prediction here is right:
Walsh is thrilled to think that his brand of campaigning, unusually personal and interactive for the information age, was so effective that it probably will be replicated. “To me, that’s changing politics,” he said. “Everybody wants that. Scott Brown did it. Deval Patrick did it. It is possible and everybody wants it so let’s go try it.”
We’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again: once the DC Dems finish licking their wounds, they need to come up to Massachusetts and have a sit-down with John Walsh and the rest of the folks who made the Massachusetts Miracle of 2010 happen. We did it right, and they didn’t. They could learn a lot by looking hard at what happened here on Tuesday, if only they are willing to do what John did back in January: accept that you screwed up, and try to fix it. Time will tell.
If you missed it on election night, here is a brief interview I did with John about the grassroots strategy before the results were in.