At the etcon conference, Joe Trippi said that in a big way, Dean has already won.
He's changed the way the presidential election is happening, at least for now, and that's a big deal.
It's up to us, and I really mean you and me, to make that permanent.
Here's another perspective from Dave Winer:
The Dean campaign taught us that you can't use the Internet to launch into a successful television campaign to win primaries. By raising money to run ads you play into the gatekeepers, who for obvious financial reasons, have a lot at stake in the money continuing to flow through their bank accounts. At some point he wouldn't need them. If Dean didn't get it, they did. So they proved that in 2004 at least, they still get a veto on who runs for President.
To Blitzer, Sawyer and Russert, to Viacom, GE, Time-Warner and Disney, Kerry seems safe, but Dean is dangerous, he routes around them, he goes direct. To accept his candidacy would be to accept the end of television-dominated politics. They aren't going to let this happen, any more than the record and movie companies are going to roll over for P2P distribution.
Had Dean fully embraced the Internet the campaign would have helped flow good news and bad about all the candidates. They would have followed Rule 1 for Internet candidates, run a real weblog. Then, when the inevitable smear came from CNN (who protests that the candidate actually had the gall to behave like a human being instead of a soap bar) — key point — the voters would have known where to tune to get a variety of viewpoints.