I got this email today, as I’m sure many of you did:

Dear Alan,

Every four years, a few months before the presidential election, the Democratic Party puts staff and resources on the ground in a few battleground states … and then they’re gone. After November the whole operation disappears.

Then, four years later, we do the same thing all over again.

That hasn’t worked. And I ran for chairman on a promise to do it another way.
The half-million dollars we’re investing in these first four states will pay for professional organizers — the key staff who will develop skills and help build a permanent network of Democrats at the grassroots level.
I am personally dedicated to making sure that every single state has the resources and infrastructure to compete at every level of office.
The Republican Party isn’t waiting. They have been building for years, and every day that slips by means another opportunity missed.

At first glance, this has a certain amount of appeal, at least on a rhetorical level.  The Republicans have been doing this for years!  We need to catch up!  We shouldn’t just drop in every four years and then fade away!

But have the Republicans really been doing this for years?  And if they have, were they not perhaps wasting their money?  Do we really get more for our investment this way than by hoarding resources and then bombarding key states with those resources when it counts?

I agree that if the sky’s the limit in terms of finances, this proposal would be ideal: cover every state, every neighbourhood, every inch of turf in the U.S., all the time.  But that’s not the case, and there is always a tradeoff.  What do you think?  If you back Dean’s approach, how do you justify spending money in North Carolina in 2005 that could go to, say, New Mexico in 2008?

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