Monday, March 2, 2009

Update on Darcy Burner's Epic Fail for Netroots

Last November, just four days after the election, I published, "Bachmann and Burner: Epic Electoral Fail for Netroots."

Combining the defeat of Democratic House candidate Darcy Burner in Washington State, with the reelection of embattled GOP congresswoman Michelle Bachmann in Minnesota, I argued that "Together, the reelection of Bachmann and defeat of Burner mark a startling defeat for the 2008 netroots campaigns of
Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Open Left, and their "Blue America" coalition of Internet activists ..."

Some of the lefty commenters at the post
scoffed at the notion of an "epic fail" for the netroots, but as Eli Sanders notes in his, "Anatomy of a Netroots Failure," the defeat of Darcy Burner's campaign last year was "biggest failure of the cycle":

To understand how invested online activists were in the campaign of Darcy Burner -- the bright, tech-savvy, and ultimately failed candidate for Congress in Washington state's 8th Congressional District -- consider what happened in February of last year, when the University of Washington's student newspaper, not normally a major player in national politics, published excerpts of an interview with Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.

Speaking to a student reporter about the nationwide army of liberal bloggers and online activists who have become a force at all levels of politics in recent years, Kaushik said: "They're not at the point yet where they can really swing a race. Part of my job is making sure people know the blogosphere is not the campaign."

Impolitic words in this Internet era, certainly. But as it turned out, he was partly correct. Despite their many successes in 2008, liberal bloggers and members of the online "netroots" could not, in fact, swing this particular race to a candidate who had become a barometer of their clout. They now openly lament Burner's defeat as their biggest failure of the cycle.

Still, back in February 2008, to suggest that such an outcome might be possible -- and to suggest, by extension, that there might be a ceiling of netroots influence at all -- was highly taboo. Kaushik was quickly made to understand that the second part of his statement (that his job was to distance the Burner campaign from the blogosphere) was absolutely incorrect. In a post titled "Loyalty," published in near-immediate response to the appearance of Kaushik's quotations in the student newspaper, Jane Hamsher, of the influential national blog
Firedoglake, reminded the campaign that liberal blogs had helped Burner raise nearly $125,000 in the primary. Now, in her opinion, the campaign was biting the online hand that fed it. "I can't think of another contributor who would raise that much money and get repaid like this," she wrote, calling for Kaushik's head. "They need to ditch this clown."

Hundreds of commenters chimed in, many agreeing, and by the next day, the Burner campaign had released a statement distancing itself from Kaushik's words. A copy of the statement now closes that particular Firedoglake comment thread: "We are truly sorry that a part-time political consultant associated with this campaign said things to a college student which reflects poorly on Darcy and her campaign. Please know that they do not reflect her views."

The chastised Kaushik stayed on with the campaign, but the lesson was clear: Attention, and deference, must be paid.
God, isn't that classic of the totalitarian left. This Kaushik dude spoke the truth, and the netroots hordes practically lynched him.

Read the rest of the article

This is just sweet schadenfreude for me, considering how high the lefties were last November. The damned nihilists had been trying to get Burner elected for almost four years. Big time bloggers were walking precincts in her district to put her over the top, and she still lost. In turn, Michelle Bachmann was excoriated for merely suggesting that the media take a close look at the contingent of socialist members of Congress, and the big netroots blogs raised something close to $1 million for Bachmann's challenger, and they still lost.

The 2008 election was a monumental victory for the left, but it sure felt good to see two of the most intense netroots campaigns crash-and-burn in what is now even recognized over on the dark side as a genuine "epic fail."


Donna B. said...

And now the Republican party wants to emulate the netroots? hmmm...

As far as I can remember they've never been spectacularly good at getting politicians on the local and state level elected. I'm not sure they can take credit for Obama either.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Donna B.