How I learned to stop worrying and love the Dean

So went the mantra of every pundit you could shake a stick at, circa December 2003. Things, obviously, have changed. Dean's second place finish in New Hampshire tonight--nothing too spectacular, but nonetheless solidly outperforming the polling--means he will stay in this race for a while yet, and the spectators will have to hold off on those ready-to-go obits for a while longer.

That's good, in one sense, because it forces us to reconsider why we came to terms with Dean in the first place...reasons that, even if they do not a nominee make are critical to the Democratic party nonetheless. A lot of criticism has been leveled at the Dean campaign for prizing 'process' over 'electability'. But going into February 3rd, the fundamentals of that 'process' have not changed, and, in fact, are the one indisputable thing between Dean and certain oblivion.

While other candidates talk about picking and choosing between the February 3rd states, Dean has organization on the ground in all 7, and he has the money to back them up, too. While the other candidates decide how to apply their meager resources to the most momentum-garnering primary opportunities, Dean has the luxury of organizations ready to go.

The lesson of this is not that Dean is the finest candidate for the job. But it does speak to what other candidates aren't doing, i.e., building excitement and building loyalty on a decisive scale.


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