Dean and Elections
NPR isn't so sure. Ostensibly, the Democratic Party needs to reach out to middle of the road voters and not energize its party base. Here's the problems with this assumption:
1) Gore and Kerry, in the real world where every legal vote is counted, actually won (see Greg Palast's work among others). Even if they didn't, there is no question that the votes taken away by vote spoilage and illegal disenfranchisement antics have hurt the Democratic Party's minority base. Further, the party activists are always looking at voting Green or similar. Being able to energize these people back to the Democratic Party is at least as good as reaching out to the middle.
2) Those "middle of the road" voters are actually not middle of the road at all. They are usually single issue voters; say, NRA members who are overwhelmingly Democratic except for gun control. Both parties are bidding for an incredibly small group, but the Republicans have managed to create a rallying cry to get some disenfranchised people to them. Note that, in one of the most closely fought elections ever, 40% of the population didn't bother to show. However, the US has some of the highest rates of political participation... just not voting. The political science work shows that, in all but a minority of cases, the Democrat who goes hard-line liberal or leftist wins and the Democrat who sells out doesn't.
Aside from that, more election coverage, this by Ed Herman.