The Organization Debate Continues
Now, GiulianiBlog has responded quite strongly to this whole line of argumentation. He argues, in essence, that all you need is issues, bio, and personality and organization doesn’t matter.
I think that’s a little strong. Operatives matter. Building a turnout operation matters. And having people vouch for you matters. That’s very clear.
That's not quite the argument. You need an organization to get you past the finish line, but it's one (albeit very important) element of the larger package. What's unclear is how much organization matters in 2006, when only a small fraction of the staffers and fundraisers have committed, and none of these guys has really gotten a chance to prove their viability on the fundraising circuit and on the campaign trail. At this point in the 1996 or 2000 cycles, you could probably write stories about how much Phil Gramm, Lamar Alexander, and Steve Forbes were lapping the field in trips to Iowa and organizational commitments.
Organization is a force multiplier. But for it to work, there needs to be a force to multiply. If you have an army of good salespeople hawking a crappy product, people will see through it 100% of the time.
McCain's brand affinity among the ony voters who matter -- those who vote in Republican primaries -- is close to zero. Rudy Giuliani's is off the charts. McCain has furiously been trying to close the gap by building an organization -- but the foundation is not sound. Note well the timing of the Dave Roederer announcement, in the works for months, which came after a terrible week for McCain and is designed as a warning to the grassroots that they're about to get rolled. And don't doubt for one second they're more worried about Rudy than Mitt Romney.
The notion being propagated by both the McCain and Romney camps that Rudy isn't a real threat, that he won't run, etc. is B.S. spin designed to wave Rudy out of the race. They've all seem the numbers. They know that Rudy extends his lead and McCain becomes a non-factor when you drill down to motivated primary voters. Weaver & Co. know that their only hope is the Hillary fear factor, but that becomes a non-issue if Rudy runs. So their strategy is not to attack Rudy directly, since that probably wouldn't work, but to pooh-pooh his chances to a willing media, to demoralize his inner circle, to make it seem like a wasted effort, to seem like they're gobbling up 100% of political talent -- without actually doing so. In truth, both McCain and Romney know that life becomes a lot easier for them without Rudy in the race.
It's time someone called B.S. on all this. The anti-Rudy storyline isn't analysis. It's a strategy.