There was a fascinating article in last Sunday's New York Times magazine that outlined Howard Dean's efforts as chairman of the Democratic National Committee to create a "50-State Strategy" that would place the party back in the center of the nation's political life by building county and precinct organizations to rival Republican machines in every state in the country. He sent out assessment teams to every state and they "bluntly stated that its local activists were 'aging' and that its central committee was 'dysfunctional.' In most states, there were hardly any county or precinct organizations to speak of. More than half the states lacked any communications staff, meaning that no one was there to counter the Republican talking points that passed from Washington to the state parties to the local media with a kind of automated precision."
It's compelling reading no matter what your political leanings are, and gives an inside look at a political party in transition. You can download a pdf of it here.