Monday, June 18, 2012

The Risk of Letting Someone Else Do It

I absorbed the side by side party conventions Saturday 140 characters at a time, following my Twitter feed on the way back from our family vacation. The occasional GOP blogger tried to dis the Dem's light attendance, in they same way they brag about how divisive primaries have cause Republican voter registration gains.
But of course the big story was Republican divisiveness and disarray. I'm not convinced that who gets the privilege of going to a national convention matters much, except to the people who want to go. And unenforcable platforms matter to almost no one except the platform committee.

Dysfunction, however, is important in the big picture of who's going to win a close election. The Paul supporters are to be commended for knowing the rules and for sticking around on caucus night and at the endless follow-up meetings. But convention strategy and platform writing are very different skills than winning elections (as evidenced in Paul's failure to win a single state). The new regime at RPI seems weak on those skills.

Oh, the work will get done. Someone will step in and do it. My own local party had a cycle where an inept platform-committee type took over and spent endless energy on structure and minutia. The elected officials had to  bail him out to make sure we had the money to open an office.

When someone else takes over, you lose control. And that's the risk A.J. Spiker and company run. It's already becoming clear that the traditional Iowa Republican movers and shakers are unwilling or reluctant to donate to the Spiker-led party. There's already talk, both in Iowa and in similarly dysfunctional Nevada, that outside interest groups and/or the Romey campaign will work around the formal party structure.

The problem with relying on outsiders to do the work is that you're hostage to their agenda. I remember interviewing a Missouri Democrat who, three years later, was still mad at the John Kerry campaign for pulling the plug on his state three weeks before election day. He believed the lack of a national campaign cost Democrats the governor's race.

Resources aren't infinite, even in the post Citizens United universe. Money will be in effect unlimited, sure. But time and space and people are limited.Now it's unlikely that Iowa , even as small as we are, will fall off the radar this cycle. But there are a lot of ways to get the electoral math to add up to 270, and if one of the other routes looks more promising to Romney in mid-October, the Iowa Republicans of 2012 could be in the same boat as the Missouri Dems of 2004.

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