Sunday, November 22, 2009

Coakley in Cruise Control

There is a new Globe poll out of likely Democratic Primary Voters. Nothing much has changed and I anticipate unless a major bombshell drops in the next two weeks, that Attorney General Martha Coakley will win by a considerable margin.

Coakley 43%
Capuano 22%
Pagliuca 15%
Khazei 6%
Undecided 14%

Coakley's approval is in the stratosphere with a 71% favorability rating. The only real danger for Coakley is that 50% of voters have yet to firmly settle on a candidate (although many of them indicated a preference, it may yet change). She has run a nearly flawless, if boring campaign and has the ball with a two touchdown lead and about two minutes left in the game. One or two more runs up the middle without a fumble and game over.

At the risk of writing a premature post-mortem on the others in the field...

Capuano who seems to be solidifying a firm grip on second place is handicapped by this not being a two-person race. He simply has not been able to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack. Capuano also badly flubbed his one chance a couple of weeks ago when Coakley announced that she wouldn't vote for a national health reform bill that had the much-discussed abortion language in it. Capuano pounced on this and hammered Coakley for not knowing how to play the inside Washington game...and then reversed himself 24 hours later and for all intensive purposes adopted Coakley's position. The fear these candidates have of incurring the wrath of certain segments of the primary electorate is mind-boggling. Capuano ended-up laming himself in his eagerness to get to the Left as much as possible on this issue and dropping what would have been a good opportunity to play on his perceived strength as a DC insider and knowing how to move legislation.

Capuano does have a lifetime seat in the House, but there are few opportunities to "move up" to the US Senate. John Kerry is in his early sixties, may be another 15 more years before there is another open seat...

Pagliuca's spending may amount to a record number of dollars expended per each vote at the end of the day. I still think he is doing this mainly to prep for a statewide run at some point in the future or to be noticed for an appointed position in the Obama Administration.

I think Kahzei has a future in politics, but he was thinking a bit too big for his initial run at public office.

The nagging issue that nearly half of these voters are not terribly excited by any one candidate speaks to initial name recognition having a major impact in this race much to Coakley's benefit. Primary Day is on December 8...I would camp out and wait the night before, but something tells me turnout is going to be mighty low.


The Prof

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009 Results

Lets see how I did on the predictions...

Boston Mayor
Prediction: Menino: 61 Flaherty: 39
Actual: Menino 57, Flaherty 43

Not too far off, though Flaherty ran a closer race than I thought...if Flaherty had more money to advertise who knows....Actually, Menino just was not beatable, but this may well be his last term. He will be 70 in 2013 and Flaherty may make another run at this. Bostonians just like their mayors and were not ready to change things up.

Virginia Governor
Prediction: McDonnell (R) 54 Deeds (D) 46
Actual: McDonnell 59 Deeds 41

Big win for the Republicans and more ominously for President Obama who had campaigned for Deeds; Independents swung back toward the Republican Candidates in The Old Dominion and counties that went for Obama in 2008 did not support Deeds in 2009. Of course this was not a referendum on the president, but it could be an early sign of discontent with his perceived "overreaching" on a number of issues..

NJ Governor
Prediction: Corzine (D) 45 Christi (R) 43 Daggett (I) 12
Actual: Christi 49, Corzine 45, Daggett 6

I was wrong, but I did call it a toss-up...Bigger win for Republicans as NJ is a pretty deep shade of blue. The general loathing of Corzine by many voters and the fading of Daggett's independent run propelled Christi to the Governor's mansion. The economy and corruption were major issues and Christi won big among men and independents. Another warning bell for the president as he campaigned heavily for Corzine.

NY, 23rd District
Prediction: Hoffman (C) 44 Owens (D) 38 Scozzafava (R) 18
Actual: Owens 49 Hoffman 45 (D) 38 Scozzafava 5

I missed this one. The intra-party warfare of the local Republicans enabled the Democrats to pick up a long-time Republican seat. Also, credit Owens and his organization for getting out their voters. The battle between the Conservatives and Moderates in the Republican Party was openly waged here. I always tell my classes that a party has to have a "big tent" to be successful in the long run. In the Northeast, strict conservative Republicans simply do not play as well as they may in other parts of the nation. This district was Republican, but was not fertile hard-core conservative territory as far as I can tell.

So what does all this mean?

Incumbents did not fare particularly well with Corzine (who spent ridiculous amounts of money) going down. Mayor Bloomberg in NYC barely held on - someone calculated that he spend $166 on every vote he received. Even in Massachusetts, several incumbent mayors (Worcester, Lynn, Brockton) lost their seats. Could this be bad news for Governor Patrick...

Voters are very concerned with the state of the economy. If it does not turnaround there may well be a lot of political bloodletting with an angry electorate one year from now.

Turnout is key, many young voters who came out for Obama in VA and NJ did not come out this time around. Involved people are motivated voters.

Was this a referendum on President Obama? No, local issues and candidates typically dominate these elections, but the White House cannot be pleased with the turnout of events here. These results may force some course corrections in the administration as vulnerable Democrats (especially in red states) may not want to be tied to closely to the president in 2010.

Onwards to 2010...

The Prof

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day 2009 Predictions

Ok - lets go out on a limb and see if I can nail the races that are coming up for tomorrow...

Boston Mayor
Menino wins over Flaherty/Yoon by a decent margin. Boston just likes him and he does have the job for life. His opponents are hoping for a Frank Skeffington Last Hurrah moment, but not this time.

Menino: 61
Flaherty: 39

Virginia Governor
This should be a relatively easy Republican pickup.

McDonnel (R) 54
Deeds (D) 46

NJ Governor
A very bitter race with an unpopular incumbent in Corzine, but a rather inept campaign by his opponent, The Republicans should have won this one, but an independent candidate siphoning nominally Republican votes and Democratic money flowing to this race should win it for Corzine. The polls have shown a dead heat all along so this is a bit of a coin toss...

Corzine (D) 45
Christi (R) 43
Daggett (I) 12

NY, 23rd District
Perhaps the most drama of any race, this was shaping up as a three-way race with the NY Conservative Party nominating a - well a conservative candidate in Hoffman against a very liberal Republican candidate in Scozzafava, with Owens carrying the Democratic banner. As the Republican candidate is quite liberal on a number of issues, many national conservatives urged support for Hoffman creating an intra-Republican split. On Friday of last week Scozzafava withdrew from the race and endorsed the the Democrat Owens. My sense on this is that Hoffman who has been ahead in the polls still wins this though.

Hoffman (C) 44
Owens (D) 38
Scozzafava (R) 18