Clay Shirky has written an essential post-mortem of the Dean punditry bubble. His points, if I understand them correctly, are as follows:
1) The internet lowers thresholds on previously high-cost political indicators. MeetUp and the other community tools makes it easier to generate crowds - this means that crowd size is no longer as important an indicator of campaign success as it once was. Internet funding makes cash accumulation easier - small-donation funding success is no longer as important a sign of grass-roots importance as it was before the Dean innovations.
2) Internet political activity is affinity-based. Primary systems are political institutions that represent the primacy of geography over affinity.
3) Fanatic elitism is the natural enemy of representative democracy, and our system is designed to drown the very sort of committed enthusiasm which the Dean bubble represents.
4) Amateurs and fanatics make for poor intelligence, and fanatic amateurs are exceptionally unreliable sources of information.
Read it all. Excellent analysis.
Via Dave Menendez.