MORE ON DEAN, AGAIN. Following up on Ezra's contention yesterday that he's not an anti-Deanie meanie, I'd also add that my own thinking on the 50-state strategy is far less negative, as should be clear from this April item, than Kevin Drum suggested:

I've spent some time in recent weeks interviewing people who work for state Democratic Parties in some of the reddest precincts in the nation, and all I can say is that based on how little support they have on the ground from interest groups, progressive activists, or the national Democrats (though they have more now than they used to, thanks to Howard Dean), it's somewhere between a miracle and a testament to the constancy of the American people that Democrats continue to win national office in some of these places. Even though the present political environment would seem to be the most favorable Democrats have faced in a long time, the president's weakness must be measured against the Democrat's even greater on-the-ground weakness in rather electorally critical parts of the nation.

The real question is how best to make up for this gap while also taking advantage of the historic political environment. No matter what happens in '06, that election is going to act as some kind of steam valve and I really doubt that, with a highly contentious presidential race also on the ballot, the '08 environment could be any more favorable to congressional change than the one in which there's a sitting president with a 29 percent approval rating and two and a half years left in office. Donors will be distracted by the presidential race in '08, and, if all goes well, the 50-state project will have matured enough to be bearing fruit. The real question now is whether or not, for the next few months at any rate, there's more that can be done by the DNC to directly support candidates, as well as infrastructure, while that project is still in its infancy.

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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