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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dean: Clinton’s 50-State Strategy Can Build Enduring Democratic Majority

In his CNN Opinion post, “How Clinton can redraw the map,” Howard Dean credits Hillary Clinton with making some strategic moves which can help secure working Democratic majorities down-ballot for decades to come. As Dean writes,

Most presidential campaigns follow the same playbook. Candidates parse the map into red states, blue states and so-called “swing states”–and they focus their time and resources exclusively on that third category.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is rejecting that strategy in favor of a much broader one. The plan that Clinton began to execute this week is a 20-year strategy to create a new vision for America.

To fulfill it, she is dispatching staff to all 50 states and is working to identify and organize supporters in each one.

It’s not just about winning the presidency for the Democrats. Clinton’s vision includes strengthening the party down-ballot:

On the same day Americans cast their vote for president this November, they’ll also be voting for senators, representatives, governors, state legislators and city council members. A 50-state strategy means that Democrats can focus attention and resources further down the ballot. We can’t forget that the outcomes of those local races matter too if we’re going to truly make a difference in people’s lives…Every Democrat that she helps get elected to offices across the country this year, the deeper the bench will be for many elections to come. They will become the foundation of a potent legacy, not just for the party, but for a consequential presidency.

“She understands that what happens between now and November is not just about 2016 or even 2020,” adds Dean. “If we really want a political revolution, we have to build it block by block–nurturing strong Democratic organizations in each of the 50 states.”

For too long Democrats have accepted weak party organizations in many states. All too often we read reports about Democrats failing to field candidates, sometimes even in competitive districts. The DNC and Democratic leaders simply must do more to help local party organizations build their strength.

Clinton understands that Democrats have a unique opportunity this year, with an extremely weak Republican presidential nominee serving up daily outrage and myriad disasters. Many Republicans are coming around to the belief that a “cleansing” defeat in the 2016 presidential election may serve their long-range interests by reorienting their party to succeed amid demographic change.

It’s a small window of opportunity in an historical context. It’s good that Clinton recognizes the importance of strengthening the Democratic Party at the state and local level — and the rare chance to do it in a big way this year.

“In her campaign, Clinton will show up everywhere and take no voter for granted,” writes Dean. “That’s why solidly red states like Georgia, Utah and Arizona already appear a few shades more purple.”

Strategically, a presidential candidate has to focus more time, energy and resources in identifiable battleground states to win the electoral college majority. But governing effectively will also require Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Putting an end to the GOP’s reign of Gridlock, Obstruction and Paralysis will also require major Democratic gains in the state legislatures of America. Having a presidential candidate who gets this — and commits to do something about it — is a big plus.

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