The Party of Organization

Will Rogers famously said, “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” But James Fallows, musing on the election, writes:

For the first time in my conscious life, the Democratic party is now more organized and coherent, and less fractious and back-biting, than the Republicans. It is almost stupefying to imagine that.

But think about the facts: We’ve now had four of the past six presidential elections won by Democrats. In five of the past six, the Democrat has won the popular vote. The most effective advocate for the current Democratic incumbent was the previous Democratic president. The current president’s toughest rival in the primaries is now his Secretary of State, and another former rival is his vice president. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the nominee dared not even mention the existence of the previous Republican president. His rivals in the primary were tepid at best in shows of support. Democrats now disagree about a lot, from their relationship with Wall Street to the ethics of drone wars. But they are a more coherent whole than through most of their recent history — and much more coherent than the Republicans.

This is a staggering thought, especially for the party that choked away Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat as recently as 2010. But on balance I think it’s true. Even the feared Republican propaganda machine was blowing fuses right and left on election night. Most tellingly in my view, much of the huge money dumped into the race on the Republican side appears to have been not just ineffective but outright looted by corrupt campaign operatives and consultants.

It would be easy to take this too far—remember how quick the GOP came back from being crushed into the dirt in 2008—but for now, their vaunted organizational edge is very much dulled.

@ryanlcooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, is currently the Washington correspondent for The Week.