Excerpt from "BLEEDING OHIO: Can the Politics of Trade Change Red States to Blue?" by Jim Jontz (Jan. 13, 2005)

Kerry's performance aside, the candidate's shortcomings could and should have been overcome through a campaign to help voters in these key states "connect the dots" and hold Bush accountable for the job losses and weak economy that troubled them.   The "Regime Change 2004" project of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) sought to address that need. 
Beginning in late July, ADA hired 10 organizers in eight battleground states to initiate community based education campaigns in 50 communities impacted by trade-related job losses.  Town meetings on the theme "Stop Outsourcing Our Future" were held in each community, with outreach and media follow-up implemented by community leaders and activists.  Thirteen events were held in Ohio alone, many with Congressmen Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland. 
The ADA campaign did not focus on large metropolitan areas, but rather on medium to smaller sized cities such as Mansfield, OH, Beloit WI, Muscatine, IA, and St. Joseph, MO.  There were fewer election-related resources in these communities; the lure of the GOP on social issues was stronger; and the loss of manufacturing jobs from trade was more visible. 
The ADA project addressed several important pieces of the puzzle:
a)  We sought to persuade voters who were sensitive to both social and economic issues to "vote their pocketbook" by helping them understand how George Bush was responsible for the economic problems they saw in their own communities;
b) We supported community leaders (Labor, faith, party, and other activists, as well as elected officials) in reaching their own neighbors, helping to build (if even temporarily) a local infrastructure for networking and education, creating the kind of community conversations that could effectively reach voters we needed to reach;

c) We "told a story about how the world works" that Jeff Faux suggests was missing from the Democrats' message (The American Prospect, 12/04).  In a global economy, the Bush trade rules encourage companies not just to move jobs offshore, but also to undermine wages and benefits at home, disadvantaging workers and communities.  We offered not just small-bore policy ideas, but a vision of a world where government becomes "an instrument for fairness" by replacing the failed NAFTA model with new trade rules that end the "race to the bottom," and insure that workers share the benefits of global commerce.

d) We were talking to voters in the places that cost Kerry the election. There were only a few more votes to be found in Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo.  Voters had to be persuaded in Mansfield, Marion, Findlay, Portsmouth, Zanesville and other communities outside the major cities in Ohio -- and other red states. 
In hindsight, it is clear that ADA's campaign was much too modest to move the number of voters necessary.  In Maine's 2nd CD, we conducted six town meetings and a media tour, our most concentrated effort.  Perhaps we helped Kerry win this district -- and one electoral vote -- where job losses from trade are very visible, and where Congressman Mike Michaud strongly reinforced our message about the links between Bush trade policy and local mill closings. 
In Iowa, Kerry won 6 of the 7 communities targeted in our "Stop Trading Away Iowa" campaign; the seventh, Marshalltown, was one of a handful of locations in Iowa where Kerry improved his performance over Gore.  However, we lacked the time and resources to connect with the number of undecided voters who could have moved Ohio, Iowa or any other state, from red to blue.  In hindsight, our organizers should have been on the ground for three years before Election Day -- not three months.