Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Post Mortem in Wisconsin: How Labor Missed Another Opportunity

Let me be the first to say this: Labor could have won last night.  Adding to its ever-growing string of missed opportunities, Big Labor fired yet another round into its already bullet-riddled feet. 

Yes, winning two races in GOP territory is a big accomplishment, and should be lauded.  However, the avoidable strategic missteps that kept Democrats from winning a crucial 3rd race cannot be ignored.  Allow me to present a few observations I made on the ground in Wisconsin:

1.  Labor once again let the Democratic Party run the show.  Imagine if Labor would have run its own candidates as independents.  This would have neutralized heavy party-line voting in the GOP strongholds.

2.  Resources were wasted in two Districts that everyone, especially the Democratic establishment, knew were never in play.  I'm not saying you don't make an effort, but you don't waste money and resources by opening offices and using political operatives where you know you have zero chance of coming within 7 points. Districts 10 and 2 should have been run by local volunteers - kind of the way any districts in the state of Virginia that are west of I-81 are run without paid staff.

3.  Democrats relied on outdated ground-game strategy that effectively turned out the vote against them in stronger GOP districts. When you're running in a district that is heavily stacked in the other direction, you can win by getting your people out to vote, and try to get everyone else to stay home.  By harassing independents, who tend to break Republican, you incite them to get out to the polls and vote against you.  If Democrats would have focused only on union households in these precincts, and left moderate Republicans alone, they would have had an outside shot at an upset by winning the turnout game.  Unfortunately, they beat moderates over the head with as many as 7-8 house visits in some cases.  I believe this in effect turned out the GOP vote in areas where the GOP did not even have a committed ground game.

4.  Labor allowed themselves to be to spread out.  While the Democratic establishment is expected to try to compete everywhere, the Labor Community should have targeted its efforts on the 3-4 Districts that had the best prospects for winning.  Unfortunately, as I stated in point number 1, Labor allowed the Democratic establishment to run the show and waste valuable resources on races that were not winnable. 

Conclusion:  I believe that if Labor had committed its resources only in Districts 32, 18, 8, and 14, we would be looking at a Wisconsin State Senate with a Democratic majority.

Unfortunately, we will never know.  There is always January, and a certain governor who will be eligible for recall.  I believe that is a fight we can win.

In Solidarity,


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