In their so far struggling efforts to become a competitive force in Idaho politics, the Idaho Democrats lack a number of things. But foremost among them, perhaps central, is one that doesn't get near th other attention some other deficiencies do: A lack of local, precinct-level and neighborhood-level, organization.
Republicans for years - decades - have had this advantage over Democrats, and it has mattered. (Former Republican Governor Phil Batt long has told Democrats that the best single thing they could do for themselves is to organize better at the local level, and there's a lot of truth to that.) You can do semi-official comparisons: The number of Democratic versus Republican precinct committee leaders. (Who has more, by a long shot, in Idaho? You get one guess.) When Republicans have visible people around the neighborhood, and set about defining who and what Democrats are, and Democrats have no local counterbalance - well, what you think is going to happen?
There's a bit of news here, in an email from the Idaho Democratic Party: "State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Stallings today announced that Democratic activists across the state are gathering at more than 85 house parties today to launch the Democratic Party's new National Neighborhood Leader Program. With exactly one year before Election Day 2008, this unprecedented national grassroots organizing effort will provide our candidates the resources they need to win in 2008. Today, Idaho Democrats are recruiting hundreds of Neighborhood Leaders who will pledge to contact at least 25 voters in their communities three times between now and Ele'ction Day, and recruit at least two more Neighborhood Leaders who will do the same.
How well they do with this, will show in the results. But it does sound like a move in the right direction.