Posted by: jamesvw | January 15, 2010

Massachusetts Senate Race: Some Thoughts

Massachusetts Senate Race: Some Thoughts

By now, most of you know that the Senate race in Massachusetts has become nationalized and is a toss-up. Living here, talking to people working on both Martha Coakley and Scott Brown’s campaigns, I don’t think that many people saw this coming. There was a lot of complacency that came out of the Democratic camp and they are paying for it now – financially and in the sprouting of collective grey hairs.

Polls are showing a dead heat. A new Suffolk poll has Brown up 4 while a Research 2000 poll has Coakley up 8. There are even rumors that Coakley’s own internal polls has her losing to the Republican. All of this is happening in a state that went for Barack Obama with 62% of the vote and is one of the most Democratic states in the county.

So what does it mean that this race is so close that Barack Obama will come campaign for Coakley on Sunday, following a highly touted rally with Bill Clinton and following a Scott Brown rally with Rudy Guiliani in the North End of Boston? Partially, this is a culmination of the anger over a lousy campaign by Coakley, a lack of urgency on the part of Democrats and the anger that Republicans and Independents are feeling about the Obama administration and the health-care debate.

But I am the first one, as a non-partisan here, to say that this should not be overblown. People who supported John McCain do not like Barack Obama and his policies. This is not a shock. When his approval rating shows him hovering around 50%, it is important to remember that in the most exact poll – the national election – 53% of the American people “approved” of him by voting for him. As is often the case in this polarized country, those that didn’t vote for the man aren’t going to support his policies. And vice versa.

In the end of the day – as everyone says ad nauseum, but has been the theme of this website – special elections are unpredictable. People do not vote in these elections like in regular elections. The fringes – those who are angry or extremely loyal to a candidate vote – and those in the middle rarely know that the elections are happening. If Coakley gets Democrats to the polls, she wins. If Democrats forget that there is an election, the Republicans will not and Scott Brown wins.

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