Thursday Chris Bowers at MyDD posted on a study by Harvard University's Elaine Kamarck indicating early success for Howard Dean's Fifty State Strategy. The study focused on "39 congressional districts where Dean had made an investment in organizing" (as opposed to states where the organizers worked at the state party headquarters for all U.S. House candidates). The North Carolina Democratic Party now has three organizers.
...those congressional districts where the DNC had paid organizers on the ground for over a year more than doubled the Democratic vote over what would have happened due to forces outside the control of the Party, such as the war in Iraq and the unpopularity of a Republican President.
...in the absence of significant amounts of DCCC money, the presence
of a DNC organizer in a congressional district puts the average Democratic increase in the vote significantly above what would be expected simply given the anti-Republican currents in the country in 2006. Districts that had less than $10,000 from the DCCC still exceeded the average national increase by nearly 3 percentage points. Districts that received between $10,000 and $100,000 exceeded the average national increase by nearly 4 percentage points. Not surprisingly, those districts that received between $100,000 and $200,000 in DCCC contributions exceeded the national average by over 8 percentage points.
These districts also exceeded the average increase for the districts with a DNC organizer. Obviously money matters. But what is interesting about this table is how much can be accomplished with organization. Since there were only two districts that were targeted by the 50 state strategy that received more than $200,000 I would not make too much of this finding. Keep in mind that it is often argued that there are diminishing returns to money in politics.
Appendix A. Outcome of Congressional District Races where DNC organizers had been working for over 16 months (NC table data below)
District___________Win/Loss____in Dem. % of Vote
North Carolina 8____Loss_______+6%
North Carolina 11___Win________+11%
Larry Kissell's NC-8 race was a squeaker, as we well know. DCCC support may have spelled the difference between NC-8 and NC-11. DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel had personally recruited Heath Shuler for NC-11 and was hanging his hat on turning out Charlie Taylor. (One of his staff members came to run our Election Protection effort.)
Appendix B. Fifty State Strategy Congressional Districts by DCCC money spent. (DCCC spending figures from www.opensecrets.org)
North Carolina 8____$46,260
North Carolina 11___$108,560
I can't speak to the analytical methods, but anecdotally, the presence of organizers had a galvanizing effect and helped pull districts together. The branding campaign Mark Hufford helped craft gave Democrats renewed presence in the reddest parts of western NC, ticked off the GOP, and told voters, "We're here."