Obama looks to create his own wave

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In the book Running Alone, James MacGregor Burns describes Kennedy’s 1960 campaign for presidency as being built upon a network of devoted Kennedy followers rather than dependent on the existing Democratic party infrastructure.  Kennedy and his people had one goal in mind – get JFK elected.  He writes that presidents since then have followed this model and paid little attention to making their coattails as long as possible.

Barack Obama’s campaign has shown signs of following a similar path, essentially being built on a loyal cadre of Obama supporters and dependent on millions of small time donors for funding.  Obama has shown a similar lack of interest in depending on the Democratic party infrastructure.  Unlike Kennedy, however, Obama seems to be seeking to become the Democratic party.

I don’t often link to Politico.com stories since they tend to focus more on process than policy, but this one fascinates me in that reports on how the Obama organization is attempting to create a long term, if not permanent, majority for the Obama/Democratic party:

“Texas is a great example where we might not be able to win the state, but we want to pay a lot of attention to it,” Hildebrand said. “It’s one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country.”

Texas Democrats are five seats away in each chamber from control of the state Legislature, which will redraw congressional districts after the 2010 census.

In Wyoming, Democrat Gary Trauner, running for the state’s sole congressional seat, lost narrowly against an incumbent in 2006 and is now seeking an open seat.

“If we can register more Democrats, if we can increase the Democratic performance and turnout, maybe we can pick up a congressional seat,” Hildebrand said.

Obama can do this because of the devotion that he has inspired by his supporters.  In absolute terms, those diehard volunteers are not enough necessarily to swing a deeply red state like Texas in Obama’s column but by strategically deploying them to vulnerable Republican state legislature districts, Obama could do more for his long term strategy for governing.

The Obama campaign recognizes that there’s more to do than just win in November.  In order to get anything done, he’s going to need healthy majorities in the House and the Senate (like a filibuster proof 60 strong seats).  By extending his coattails down to the local level, he may set himself up with a nice little governing coalition after the mid-term elections in 2010 and for a potential second term in 2012.

This could be interesting.

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