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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

DEC Evaluations: Defining Progress and Direction

The other day as I was filling out the traditional evaluation forms for my professors (an end of the semester ritual), I began to think about how this idea of evaluations could work for DECs.

Currently, DECs march forward without a real plan of action, either for the short term election cycle, or for the long term. DECs tend not to have sets of goals to shoot for, and even if they've defined goals (for instance, "elect more Democrats to office"), they don't provide a way to meet those goals.

I believe regular (quarterly, every half year, or every year) evaluations of DECs by the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) will give DECs badly needed focus and direction.

DECs should be evaluated in 4 main categories:

1.) Organization:
  • How many active precinct captains are available to the DEC versus how many precincts exist in the county?
  • Are precinct captains doing their job and are communities truly organized?
  • Are precinct captains being trained, if at all? Are they trained regularly?
  • How many volunteers are available to the DEC?
  • How many donors are on the donor list?
  • Are there volunteer and donor lists at all?
  • Does the DEC have a headquarters or office space.
  • Does the DEC completely rely on volunteers, or has it hired staffers to coordinate central operations?

2.) Fundraising:
  • How much money as the DEC raised in comparison to the local Republican Party?
  • How much money has it spent and what has it spent it on? Is fiscal responsibility being applied?
  • Has the DEC created a budget and distributed it regularly to its membership?
  • Has the DEC established fundraising goals and defined where it needs to spend money in order to win (budgetary priorities)?
  • Has the DEC created a recurring donor program? How effective is it, and what has been done (or not done) to make it effective?
3.) Communication:
  • How (or if) has the DEC interacted with the press?
  • How well has the DEC communicated its message to the public? Does it even have a message to be communicated?
  • Has the DEC promoted positive stories, or incurred negative ones?
  • How well does the central leadership communicate with its precinct captains, volunteers, and donors?
  • How well does the DEC communicate and coordinate with candidates and their campaigns whether in terms of planning or in the field?
  • Does the DEC have someone or a committee assigned to be a liason with the press?
4.) Electoral Performance
  • How well has the DEC and the Democratic Party done in recent elections (this can be as small as municipal races or as large as a presidential race) in the county?
  • Have there been improvements from election cycle to election cycle?
  • How many Democratic candidates are running for office? Are Republican incumbents sufficiently being challenged? Are there Democrats running for open seats?
  • Has progressive legislation and ordinances been successfully implemented at the county level, or has legislative gridlock taken hold? What has the DEC done to promote progressive ideas and legislation at all levels throughout the county?
I'll leave it up to the FDP to decide how to score all of this. Obviously, there are some aspects of a DEC which should be valued more than others. The score should be simple to understand however. DECs should be graded just like a standard test: a percentage (1-100%) indicating a certain letter grade (A-F). Obviously, the grading scale would be the same as any school's: 90-100% is an A, 80-89% a B, 70-79% a C, 60%-68% a D, and 59% and below an F.

Once again, I believe such evaluations will give the DECs needed focus and direction. If a DEC scores well in fundraising, but poorly in communication, then this tells a DEC that their communication apparatus (or lack thereof) needs to be reevaluated. And more specifically, if a DEC scores poorly in communication because they don't have a press secretary/spokesperson or a public relations committee, then the DEC will know clearly that they need to hire a press secretary and/or create a public relations committee.

The FDP, in addition to providing a critique of a DEC through an evaluation, should also provide some ideas on how to solve the problem. By that point the FDP should have an array of programs and options to help and enhance DEC performance (more on that to come in a later post.)

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