Monday, September 7, 2009

Handicapping the Senate race...

With the now-open US Senate seat scheduled to be filled by a special election on January 19, it is time to try some early handicapping of what will be a crowded field...primary elections for the parties are scheduled for December 8 - three short months away!

The early odds for each candidate that I am posting assume that Joe Kennedy is not in the race...if he is they will be reworked in my next posting. Update: I stand by the odds I published - for now!

One thing to bear in mind is that special elections have historically low turnout and candidates with excellent fundraising ability and GOTV (get out the vote) operations will fare well.


Breaking News - Kennedy not running!

Of course this news breaks a few hours after I post this... I need to find a Matt Drudge style siren for breaking news!

Joe Kennedy:
If he throws his hat into the ring he will benefit through instant name recognition and Kennedy nostalgia. He has experience as a former Congressman and would be able to raise a large amount of money in a short time. My instinct tells me that he would be the odds on favorite, but would not be a lock for the nomination. If he does run, he will have a smaller field to run against however, as his presence would make some potential candidates think twice about running. I see the race between him and Martha Coakley
Odds: (if he runs) 60% of winning the nomination
Odds of running: less than even, lets say 60-40 he does not get into the race
(I was right!!)

Attorney General Martha Coakley:
The sitting State Attorney General has already formerly declared for the seat and has made it no secret that her ambition has been the US Senate for some time. She has the experience of having run and won a statewide election and will be able to raise money from liberal advocacy and women's groups. Although technocratic in approach and temperament, nevertheless I think she will be a formidable force in this race. She has had a meteoric political rise and if Joe K. decides not to run, she has the best shot at winning with a crowded primary field. This primary is one where organization and political savvy will benefit her greatly. Remember, winning 35% of the vote in a crowded race wins you the nomination...
Odds: 55% shot at winning the nomination

Congressman Steven Lynch:
Steve Lynch has filed papers to run and will be in this race regardless of what Joe K. does. He is the most conservative Massachusetts member of Congress and can potentially do well among blue collar voters and Republican-leaning independents (more on this in a minute). He has a substantial financial war chest that he can put to use for this race. However, he is on the conservative side of the Democratic Party and I think he will have trouble beating a more liberal opponent - unless several liberal candidates run and split the vote.
Odds: 30%

Congressman Michael Capuano:
This liberal Congressman from Tip O'Neil's old 8th District seat has the ability to raise money and is a fiery and passionate liberal on the issues which will help him in a primary battle. His problem is lack of name recognition outside his district and a primary race with at least two other liberal candidates. He could catch fire though if Coakley stumbles.
Odds: 20%

Congressman Ed Markey:
The long-term Congressman from Malden is said to be eyeing a run (if Joe does not of course). I think he has the same issues the Capuano has - a crowded field with ideologically similar candidates. Also, he does not have the personal charisma of a Capuano.
Odds: 10%

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan:
Marty retired from Congress in 2007 and has a few million dollars sitting in his campaign account that he may put to use. Opportunities like this arise rarely and he is seriously considering this race. He is a moderate Democrat and does have significant name recognition. However, he is not well-liked by many party activists and did retire from a safe seat in The House. I think he will pull the trigger on this race though and may surprise with a decent showing as he is well regarded in the Merrimack Valley.
Odds: 20%

I don't think Congressman Barney Frank will run as he he a plum House Committee Chairmanship where he wields more power than he would as a junior senator. If he does surprise us and run, I think he may have the chance at pulling an upset as he is very politically gifted ands would be the liberal darling in this race.


I am not going to spend too much time here as there is virtually no chance for a Republican to win this seat in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Raising money and frankly finding credible candidates continue to be the bane of the Massachusetts GOP.

Former Lt. Governor Kerry Healy took herself out of the running over the weekend. State Senator Scott Brown and former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card are said to be eyeing runs. Registered Independent Curt Schilling may have to run as an independent candidate if he does get into the race (I don't think he will, by the way) as state election laws require him to be registered in a major party in order to run for a party nomination.

However, I am about 95% certain that the winner of the Democratic primary will be the elected Senator with at least 60% of the overall vote come January.

Oh yes...almost forgot! The role of independents who can vote in party primaries may help a candidate like Lynch as we can safely assume that turnout for the Republican primary will be very low and that most independents will go into the Democratic primary. (Full disclosure, I plan to pull the lever for Lynch in the primary as I am a conservative-leaning independent) Again turnout is key and that hinges on a candidate's ability to organize and raise raise money during a very short campaign season. This is promising to be an exciting fall...


The Prof


Anonymous said...

I like your odds for Coakley- Besides have the smarts (Williams cum laude) and 23 years working for the public good- It's about time Massachusetts broke through the all boys club- Notice how the courageous gang of men are waiting to see if "dirty Joe" will run? This is how it works in this state- God forbid anyone should step on the toes of the status quo leaders-
Time to bring a breathe of fresh air and make history with a strong & experienced woman-

Brad said...

The danger for Coakley will be if she makes any sort of gaffe (not likely) or if liberals such as Capuanao and Markey both enter the race since that may leave an opening for Lynch to pull off an upset with the liberal vote (and fundraising) being split. Meehan entering the race would likely draw from Lynch more than Coakley methinks.