In the new issue of The American Prospect, Dana Goldstein and Ezra Klein (Full disclosure: they’re both good friends of mine), have an article about the changes Barack Obama is making to the Democratic Party structure. Although Obama has positioned himself as an outside-the-Beltway guy–even moving employees who work at the DNC headquarters in Washington to Chicago once he secured the nomination–he’s taken a cue from some Democratic Party stalwarts. Many of the former staffers of Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, who largely got blamed for the party’s losses in 2002, are crafting Obama’s campaign.
The article also notes that the Obama campaign’s success is benefiting from a lot of the ground that Howard Dean broke in 2004. Two key components of his strategy are grassroots Internet organizing and building infrastructure in all 50 states. This means that Democrats are now considered competitive in states that they haven’t touched since Dixiecrats abandoned the party.
But the real question is if this is a strategy that will last or if it’s a temporary structure that supports a non-traditional candidate well. A number of people have pointed to a post-partisanship era, but the reality is that Republicans have taken a beating. They created an unpopular war and the economy is far worse than it was during the Clinton administration. Whether or not Democrats will remain competitive in non-traditional states remains to be seen.