Another story we have been following on Open Left is the fate of the fifty-state strategy now that Howard Dean will no longer be DNC Chair. During the festivities here in D.C., I ran into a source close to the transition at the DNC who was able to provide an update on the new outlines of the DNC strategy, which does diverge from the current form of the fifty-state strategy in multiple ways:
Increasing Centralization: The shift in resources away from paid media and toward on the ground organizers will continue. However, these resources will be more directly controlled by the DNC itself, rather than by state parties. In other words, the SPP program where the DNC pays for organizers chosen by the state parties themselves is, as previously reported, done. Instead, the DNC will likely hire and assign organizers themselves. State party grants will also likely be transformed into more centrally directed expenditures by the DNC.
More swing state, less fifty-state: Many, if not most, states will have more resources spent on them during the next four years than during the previous four years. In addition to increasingly centralized control over how these resources are spent, there will also be a return to a swing-state focus for 2012. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Obama campaign's version of a swing state strategy was broader than either the Gore or Kerry incarnations.
In short, the DNC will be moving away from the long-term, decentralized, fifty-state strategy of Howard Dean's tenure, and toward serving as a short-term, centralized re-election effort for President Obama in 2012. It will continue the move away from paid media ushered in by Howard Dean, maintain or increase the amount of resource expenditures in most states, and the number of states it targets will be a broader effort than the narrow focus we saw in 2001-2004 (but more narrow than 2005-2008). However, it will return to the traditional role of the DNC as a supplement for the sitting President's re-election campaign, rather than as the long-term, localized institution building operation that is was from 2005-2008.
The fifty-state strategy of 2005-2008 is going to be replaced with the "re-elect President Obama" strategy of 2009-2012. Both have their advantages, but I still consider firing the 200 state party organizers a real blow to the long-term development of local Democratic Party talent and infrastructure.