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Crying Foul, Netroots Note Some Big Wins

In a post yesterday, The Fix wrote about Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb's (D) potential to be the first candidate backed by the Democratic "netroots" to win an election. The word "first" prompted several of the most prominent members of the liberal blogosphere to take issue with me.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the influential Daily Kos blog, said the netroots played a major role in the special election victories of Reps. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) in 2004 and were also prominent (and early) backers of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during his 2004 campaign.

Kos said the progressive online community raised $80,000 for Chandler in the final week of his campaign and $100,000 for Herseth. As evidence of the impact the netroots had on the two campaigns, Moulitsas points to a Wired magazine story on the Chandler race and an attempt by the South Dakota Republican Party to make an issue of the role the liberal blogosphere played in that state's special election.

The folks at Swing State Project made many of the same points as Daily Kos.

The Fix reached out to the offices of both Herseth and Chandler for comment on just how large a role the netroots played in their victories.

Russ Levsen, communications director for Herseth, confirmed that the netroots played a major part in her special election victory. We definitely benefited from the activism, the support online ... and a lot of people coming out to South Dakota because they believed in Stephanie's campaign," Levsen said.

Jennifer Spalding, a Chandler spokeswoman, said the Democratic netroots played a "critical role" in her boss's special election victory.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 30, 2006; 4:04 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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Comments

Anon -

As someone above pointed out the "netroots candidates" have all been specifically picked as long shot candidates. If you had bothered to do even a modicrum of research in to nouveau progressive, which by the way is a much better term than netroots, political ideology you would know that the idea of a 50 state plan is a central one.

To this end bloggers have expressed a willingness to support ANYONE who will run against republicans in a state where they would otherwise be running unopposed. As you can seen in Conneticut re: Lieberman and Lamont, this also includes republicans that dress up like democrats. To quote their record at 0 while true, negates the entire point of the races they have funded.

In order to promote change inside the democratic party they are helping to shape national impression of a new progressive movement. One that cares about schools, health care, and you. Part of this is being politically active everywhere, to shape a national debate. Still however, anonymous posters are usually nothing but trolls so here's hoping you read this and actually take some of it to heart. If need be I will dig out some links to quotes to help stuff these facts down your throat, like so much castor oil or any other carminative to aid in the release of your ill founded bile and conjecture.

Posted by: James Roe | June 14, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

All this "no candidate they've recruited" is a bit odd.

It's not like they've had a distinct organization for very long, and certainly have no nominating committee. The point is not that they are a unified power base, but they are a group of interested folks who are passionate about the political process and the future of the country, and as such constitute an important constituency.

Kos and other prominent bloggers have gotten behind some long shot races, and lost more than they've won. But they've chosen tough ones, mostly red districts in red states, and they've been fighting. They won't all be winners, but they will get attention and help make change happen.

They are also about a lot more than money (although I think the dollar amount the 'netroots' can move is just going to go up over time.) I volunteered for the Kerry campaign in part because I was energized by the netroots, and spent time making phone calls and putting together packages for field workers. So did my girlfriend, and she's not a real blogastan citizen - but my interested spurred her on as well.

It's a bit early for blogger truimphanalism, but it's also silly to condemn the 'movement' as unimportant. Yearlykos was the first, but not the last, gathering of its kind; they'll be more in the future. If it brings more ordinary citizens into the political process, (even on the other side-YearlyInstaPundit!), I'm all for it.

Posted by: Fides | June 13, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse

This is cool, you have to try it. I guessed 70727, and this game guessed it! See it here - http://www.funbrain.com/guess/

Posted by: Allison Trump | May 23, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chris, from an "inactivist."

Great to see a little balance for a change.

I usually vote neither Democratic nor Republican.

Posted by: Terry Hallinan | April 4, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Well, the other day I gave Lamont $100 through ActBlue. The same day I threw the fund-raising letter from the DSCC (from my old pal Ted Kennedy) in the trash. And I doubt I'm alone. I'm not interested in giving to DINOs and their big media buy consultants. I don't want to see the same old neutered farts who just want to get along. I want to see some Democrats in office.

Posted by: JR | April 3, 2006 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Note in re: 'netroots' progressive types: those of us who might actually give $$$ to Republicans instead tend not to like them.

Posted by: Townleybomb | April 3, 2006 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait for the netroots to take credit for Clinton's victory in 1992 and 1996. Also Jimmy Carter in 1976. Oh wait...don't forget JFK. Netroots were there too. Funneled $326.06 to his campaign I think.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2006 1:34 AM | Report abuse

Webb in or Webb out, who cares? He's going to lose. He should have saved his money and his time and not run.

Its easy to recruit someone into a race when you get to keep your job and keep getting a paycheck. It's the candidate the suffers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2006 1:32 AM | Report abuse

The Netroots did indeed funnel money to Chandler and Herseth - but then again they were the only candidates looking for money at the time. That is to say, people weren't making a choice in favor of the Netroots and against the DCCC.

The Netroots are an important component of the party, to be sure, but I have yet to see any concrete victories where they were central to the effort. And everytime they lose, there is no self-examination, only cries that the national party selected the candidate. While this is the case some of the time, as with Sherrod Brown, DailyKos and company tend to cry foul too often.

Posted by: Jeff | April 1, 2006 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Make no mistake - the netroots didn't just have an 'effect' on Jim Webb getting into the race - the netroots CONVINCED him to get into the race.

Was he considering a return to public life?
Yes.
Does he have some help from some top-flight strategists?
Yes.

But bloggers and the netroots have been the most committed volunteers of his campaign, and it is picking up momentum.

Remember - bloggers have have feet, and voices too - we're not all a bunch of brains in a vat wired directly to a USB port. These guys are out there - getting signatures, raising money, spreading message, recruiting others - not just sitting home whining on dKos or Eschaton.

Candidates like Jim Webb get people off their @ss - it's an uphill fight for sure, but George Allen ignores this movement at his own peril.

Onward To Victory

Posted by: William | April 1, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

anon,

I guess so, but the only "netroots-drafted" candidate I can think of is Gen. Wesley Clark. Hackett was in the race for awhile before attracting netroots support. The same is true for Ginny Shraeder. There were also some "draft Dean for DNC chair" rumblings, but he jumped in before it became a real movement. Plus, internal Democratic party election, so amped-up impact for activists.

So the netroots is 0 for 1 when it drafts a candidate. I'm pretty sure the draft movements had some affect on James Webb's decision to enter the Senate race in Virginia, and Ken Lucas to run for his old House seat (Lucas, if elected, would be a very conservative Democrat, again showing the fallacy of the "the netroots are crazy leftists in constant conflict with the DCCC"). I suppose Ned Lamont as well. I think Lucas has a decent chance of victory, but that both Webb and Lamont are longshots.

Posted by: JoshA | March 31, 2006 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Its no apology when the first word in the Head is "CRYING". Im sure theres, oh say, 1 or 2 more ways of saying "I was wrong and they were right" than by leading off strong with "CRYING" Foul (emphasis intended). Whether it was meant as a subconscious device or a tool of overt meaning, the effect was intended. Every journalist worth his or her salt (including bloggers and commenters, incl me) have a clear word choice in mind when they write, its called the voice, which is obviously driven by ideology. Hence the need for parsing, right Chris? Isnt that why you often have headlines about parsing polls and parsing statements? Well, im sure you know (b/c we let you know) that we parse your words as well, so two can play that game :) Of course, Chris, you and other ideologically-driven writers are easy to pick out from the pool of true, unbiased journalists... But it is funny that the WaPo felt so strongly that they needed a conservative voice in their blogs (is Cilliza NOT conservative?) that they hired a serial plagerist in Ben Domenech.

Bravo WaPo, bravo. Who's next for a spot on the staff, George Deutsch?

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | March 30, 2006 06:29 PM

While I tend to agree with your assessment of Mr. Cillizza generally, to be fair, aren't the headlines normally written by somebody else?

They normally are for print, but maybe in an online edition (especially an online blog) they aren't. I would be curious if he did choose his own headlines, though.

You're right, it's all about the choice of language.

Posted by: scootmandubious | March 31, 2006 10:49 AM | Report abuse

still 0 percent for candidates they've recruited...

Posted by: anon | March 31, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

You could also go back to the '98 midterms, where Move On played a prominent role in dumping several of the House impeachment managers. There were several upset wins in that race, including Rush Holt of New Jersey.

Netroots is clearly a player.

Posted by: Dick Tuck | March 31, 2006 4:27 AM | Report abuse

"Netroots" - what a joke. Grow up already you people. What is wrong with you? You should move out of the USA and form your own country called "Star-Trek-Convention-istan"

Get a life

Posted by: OJ Simpson | March 31, 2006 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who finds it insane that people think that the netroots should recruit candidates as the DCCC does? They never said they were a new establishment.

Posted by: charles | March 31, 2006 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the corrections, Chris. Don't be such an ignorant hack next time when you talk about the netroots.

Posted by: e-will | March 30, 2006 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Commenters above are correct. Daily Kos and other leftists trying to take credit for Herseth and Chadler is absurd considering they were originally recruited by the DLC and DCCC, the two groups Daily Kos gang hates with a passion.

Posted by: Fred | March 30, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Josh A - do you dispute the fact that the Netroots is still batting 0 percent for netroots-recruited candidates?

the point is that Herseth and Chandler were really DCCC driven campaigns, with some help from the Netroots...

Posted by: anon | March 30, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Good to see a correction. I would argue that Gov. Kaine falls into the "netroots-backed" camp as well, and if we are counting internal Democratic elections, then Gov. Dean as DNC chair too. However, I'd acknowledge that Gov. Kaine would likely have won without the netroots support as well, given the popularity of Gov. Warner and the poor decision making of Jerry Kilgore (embracing Bush, the 'Tim Kaine loves Hitler' ad, etc.).

As for you, anon, you actually help prove a point that the Democratic netroots are more ideologically diverse than is usually protrayed in the traditional media. Both Herseth and Chandler are indeed moderate, or even conservative, Democrats. However, both were forthright about what they believed and willing to fight for those beliefs. Its the willingness to fight, not a specific ideological checklist, that motivates the netroots.

Brent, however, makes an excellent point. I do expect that the effect of netroots in special elections to be greater than in the 2006 elections, simply due to the number of races to choose to contribute to.

Posted by: JoshA | March 30, 2006 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see a correction and a detailed one, but it would also be nice to see a specific acknowledgement or admission of error-- though such could still be accompanied by pointing out the overall still low success rate of the prominently backed 'netroots' candidates.

Posted by: Tom G | March 30, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Its no apology when the first word in the Head is "CRYING". Im sure theres, oh say, 1 or 2 more ways of saying "I was wrong and they were right" than by leading off strong with "CRYING" Foul (emphasis intended). Whether it was meant as a subconscious device or a tool of overt meaning, the effect was intended. Every journalist worth his or her salt (including bloggers and commenters, incl me) have a clear word choice in mind when they write, its called the voice, which is obviously driven by ideology. Hence the need for parsing, right Chris? Isnt that why you often have headlines about parsing polls and parsing statements? Well, im sure you know (b/c we let you know) that we parse your words as well, so two can play that game :) Of course, Chris, you and other ideologically-driven writers are easy to pick out from the pool of true, unbiased journalists... But it is funny that the WaPo felt so strongly that they needed a conservative voice in their blogs (is Cilliza NOT conservative?) that they hired a serial plagerist in Ben Domenech.

Bravo WaPo, bravo. Who's next for a spot on the staff, George Deutsch?

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | March 30, 2006 6:29 PM | Report abuse

The Netroots is still 0 percent at drafting a winning candidate...

Posted by: anon | March 30, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

However, the fact remains that both Chandler and Herseth were DCCC RECRUITED candidates. Both are DLC FAVORITES, so the notion that Kos claims them is laughable...

Posted by: anon | March 30, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Glad CC posted a correction but is this fact-filled column as close as a journalist in the blogosphere gets to an apology? A whimsical 'oops' in the title would have been enough.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 30, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

That is all the more reason to court the progressives. They are where the money is coming from and Clark's support of Webb gives him a leg up in the race to lock in the netroots support and the cash windfall that it comes with.

Posted by: Andy R | March 30, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It's easy to funnel money from across the country when you are the only game in town which is what happened in these special elections. The netroots are going to have a much harder time getting any type of tracktion now that there are hundreds of hands out and not just a few.

Posted by: Brent Parrish | March 30, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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