Howard Dean, leader of the Democratic National Committee, seems to be failing miserably at his sole job as lead fundraiser for the Democrats. The fact that he followed up a claim that Republicans unnecessarily label his party with unpresentative names like "liberal" and "leftist" by nicknaming prominent Dems "Merlot Democrats" couldn't have helped. According to the Washington Post, Dean's DNC is trailing the Republicans in the fundraising race by nearly 2 to 1. Furthermore, after the off-year elections last week the Democrats have only one-fifth of the funds in the bank as their counterparts at $6.8 and $34 million, respectively.
Could anyone have really doubted this would happen? In the 2004 elections, the two primary front-runners wiped the floor with Dean and after Kerry was nominated, Dean was used as the liberal mouthpiece. The party used his radical image to say what the other candidates couldn't in protecting their "moderate" image.
Unfortunately, with the passage of BCRA, or campaign finance reform, the impact of 527's will more than make up for the disparity in national party funds. Liberal PACs were supremely generous to the Democrats, with groups like MoveOn.org being funded by billionaire financier George Soros. However, the effect was seen only among liberals and voters leaning to the left. The ads from most partisan PACs fell on deaf ears in the homes of most independent or undecided voters.
The 2006 elections will be the first real test of Dean's fundraising abilities since there were only two large-scale elections in the nation this past week. I don't see him having the ability to reach the moderate and undecided voters that win elections these days. With the level of partisanship falling ever year and the level of independents rising at the same time, the ability to connect with independent voters could be the wild card in the next few elections cycles.
Howard Dean would be a great leader on a particular issue for a liberal PAC, but hiring him to lead the entire Democratic Party is as foolish as a midget running a Big-and-Tall shop. He is simply too radical to represent the interests of such a broad array of political ideologies. Both parties include liberals and conservatives and their fair share of moderates. And we can expect only the former of the three groups to donate with any regularity over the next few election cycles with Dean at the helm.
And that's great news for the GOP...