Sweet as it was to win control of the House and the Senate in the 2006 election, some Democratic operatives think their victory could have been bigger if national party chairman Howard Dean had been willing to spend more in districts where races were close.
According to Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, "there were two dozen seats in which Republicans got 51 percent or less....There is a very big difference between defending these seats as incumbents or still trying to pick these up while they are being protected by Republicans."
James Carville, who along with Greenberg co-founded Democracy Corps, a Democratic strategy group, told a Monitor breakfast on Wednesday, "We beat the hell out of them at the committees, at the congressional [campaign] committees. The DNC [Democratic National Committee] left the money on the table."
Carville said DNC Chairman Howard Dean should be dumped. Carville added that Dean "should be held accountable" and described his leadership as "Rumsfeldian in its competence."
Chairman Dean has been investing in a strategy of rebuilding the party in all 50 states and hiring local operatives to help with that task. DNC member Don Fowler sent fellow DNC members a message on Tuesday saying that talk of replacing Dean was "nonsense. The 50-state strategy is exactly what the Democratic Party needed and continues to need. Why do the Washington people think that they have a special prerogative to dictate what the Democratic Party needs?"
While saying he has no problem with the 50-state strategy, Carville quipped that, "the point of a political party is not to hire people, it is to elect people."
Beyond the question of party leadership, both Republicans and Democrats face dangers as they turn their attention to the 2008 presidential election. "The big Republican problem going into '08 is Bush. I mean, he is just unpopular," Carville said. "Unless he has a really good two years, which maybe he does, he is in danger of being a complete albatross on the Republican Party."
"The biggest danger for Democrats is that we do what we kind of do sometimes [and] fracture ...if it looks like we are kind of fighting and incapable and don't get anything done, that is our biggest danger," Carville said.